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December 14, 2018

Outcry as violent demolitions leave traders without livelihood

City County operation officers rough up a trader who had refused to cooperate. /TRIZZA KIMAN
City County operation officers rough up a trader who had refused to cooperate. /TRIZZA KIMAN

City Hall has vowed to carry on the demolitions of the illegal structures for the next 17 days across the city and its outskirts.

Head of operations Peter Mbaya yesterday told reporters that the operation will however be extended if the structures will not have been pulled down.

He said the operation targets traders who have erected structures along the road and other restricted areas.

Yesterday, Mbaya said over 80 traders had been arrested as a result of the operation conducted in Nairobi's Lavington and Kawangware areas.

This operation will continue daily in each of the sub-counties on a daily basis except weekends. We have to restore some order. We are not against people during their businesses but we cannot allow them to do business anywhere," Mbaya said.

He said those arrested will be arraigned at the City hall court for obstruction and defiance to a notice to vacate.

Illegal structures have been pulled down in parts of the city including Mutindwa market and Fedha.

The exercise is part of efforts to transform Nairobi's look and see traders operate at designated areas only.

Traders have complained of lack of sufficient notice and brutality during the demolitions.

Senator Johnson Sakaja faulted Governor Mike Sonko over "inhumane demolition" of structures by the county government.

He asked the Governor to direct the city inspectorate department to be humane and considerate.

The senator said the demolitions have left many residents hopeless and with nowhere to go after their business premises - their only source of livelihood - were destroyed.

He appealed to the city boss to ensure the affected traders are given prior notice and alternative trading areas established before demolitions are carried out.

“I know that we are suffering when the structures are demolished. I am appealing to the governor to please, before we demolish the structures, let’s get a good place for them to operate because they are just struggling to earn a living,” Sakaja said.

City hall however defended the move on grounds that criminals hide in such structures at night and ambush passers-by.

This the county claims makes it difficult for county officers and the police to distinguish between the criminals and the traders.

But the irony is that the demolitions are raising the unemployment rate, which critics fear could increase crime as the jobless turn to the same vice the county is fighting.


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