Bill seeks to protect and control hawkers

Sunday April 1 2018

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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Street vendors in the country will soon be allowed to sell their wares without being harassed by the police and county government askaris, if Parliament passes a proposed law.

The draft Protection to Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Bill 2018 seeks to bring sanity to the sector by licensing street vendors and shielding them from police harassment.

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, who came up with the bill, said the law is to provide social security and livelihood rights to vendors.

“The prejudice, hate and legitimacy issues surrounding hawking especially from the societal elites and local officials, who take advantage of the situation due to absence of legal framework, is a knife no one wants to face,” Mr Wa Iria said during a public participation at the Senate.

According to the governor, vendors will be given a conducive atmosphere to do their business without fear of harassment, eviction or extortion from police and government officials.

At the same time, the law if passed, will regulate the activity for the management of public spaces and traffic.

The bill comes at a time major towns in the country among them Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret are chocking with an influx of hawkers.

Their proliferation makes it extremely difficult for pedestrians to walk in the streets, with security also becoming a major challenge.

Footpaths have been taken, forcing pedestrians to compete with motorist for the limited space available. 

Licensed traders have also complained that hawkers block entrance to their premises, as they sell their diverse merchandise.

The bill borrows heavily from practices in India, which has about ten million street vendors.