Greenlight for Gikomba traders to sue Nairobi county in demolitions row

Gikomba Market

Traders selling second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi on Sunday, March 17, 2024.

Photo credit: File|Nation Media Group

Over 200 second-hand clothes (mitumba) traders in Gikomba have been allowed to file a fresh case challenging a decision by the Nairobi City County government to demolish their premises sitting on a 2-acre parcel of land valued at Sh1 billion to put up a fire station.

Justice Sammy Aswani Opande allowed the traders' lawyer Danstan Omari to file a fresh case seeking orders to stop the demolition of the stalls they have operated for the last 78 years.

He gave Omari two hours to file the substantive suit plus annextures of evidence which include licenses issued to the traders by the county government to operate.

The Judge heard that part of the evidence will be a video clip of President William Ruto who assured the traders they would not be evicted when he bought a shirt from a trader at Sh100 during the 2022 campaign period.

"The plight of the traders must be guarded jealously against the aggressors who have received licenses levy and now they have turned against the hopeless claimants," Mr Omari told the judge.

The court was further informed two traders have since died after their stalls were pulled down by the county government bulldozers two months ago.

The judge had earlier declined a plea by the traders to amend their earlier pleadings, which had omitted evidence to prove authority to operate in the area.

The traders comprising senior citizens aged between 50 and 80 years prayed for the court's intervention saying they had nowhere to go if the decision to kick them out of their business premises was not quashed.

The judge heard the traders have been operating on the premises since 1936.

The plea to file a fresh case was vehemently opposed by the county government lawyer Didda Halakhe who said the county government wanted to put up a fire station which is a project with public interest.

In his brief judgment, Justice Opande allowed the application by the traders to file a fresh case saying it has merit and not capricious.

The judge also waved an earlier order requiring the traders to pay costs of the earlier case which they had sought to amend saying they cannot be subjected to the double jeopardy of having their premises demolished and bearing costs of the suit.