Let Sakaja allow hawkers in CBD with rules

Nairobi hawkers

Hawkers display their wares outside Savanis Bookshop on the junction of Lagos and Latema roads on February 25, 2023.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

I strongly support Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja’s decision to allow hawkers to operate in the city alleys and lanes in the city centre from this month. He is fulfilling his election campaign promise to address the harassment of hawkers in the capital.

More than 60 per cent of Kenyans earn a living in the informal sector. In absence of jobs, increased inflation and a tough economy, many people have opted to hawk goods to make ends meet and fend for their families.

Denying these people an opportunity to legally earn a living without giving them an alternative was quite unfair. To many, it meant the end of education for their children and a bigger struggle to put food on the table. Many residents are compelled to engage in crime to survive. 

However, to make his idea a success, the governor must engage in some workable strategies. 

First, hawking should be embraced and accepted as part of the informal economy and appropriate plans made to create room for them to operate without being harassed.

Secondly, hawkers should be supported, encouraged and assisted by the government and non-governmental organisations to form an association to advocate their welfare and champion their demands. That will help to make their business orderly.

Loans, grants

Thirdly, the government and financial institutions should provide financial support to hawkers in form of loans and grants to help them to improve their businesses.

That can help them to have their own shops and stalls to carry out their businesses, thus reducing congestion for some can open big shops and stop hawking in town. Again, some may use finance to pursue other courses that can be helpful to them.

Fourth, clear alternative places must be made available to hawkers to display their items. These places should be supplied with clean toilets, good drainage systems, enough litter bins and good security.

Fifth, the government should tax hawkers and their contribution must form part of the government revenue since hawking forms an integral part of the informal sector. This money should help to improve their wellness and contribute to the growth of the entire economy at large.

The government should provide education to hawkers. They should sponsor those who wish to receive training to improve their livelihoods and future.

Lastly, Gov Sakaja and the county assembly should enforce laws to regulate hawking in the city. 

Sharon Namarome, Migori


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