Hawkers, street families and beggars have increased to alarming levels in Mombasa town.
The congestion in the town centre is inconveniencing other traders, motorists, tourists and residents.
Thousands of hawkers have literally invaded the central business district by piling up second-hand clothes, shoes and bags among other merchandise onto pavements and roads.
Mayor Ahmed Mohdhar termed the hawkers and street families invasion of town centre a crisis.
He, however, said the council could not address the problem without the support of the government and political leaders.
“It should be noted that when the council cleared the hawkers from the streets two years ago, they set ablaze a new fire engine which was bought at Sh50 million,” he said.
He added: “On the other hand, some politicians don’t want the hawkers to be removed from the town as they will vote for them in the 2012 elections,” he added.
He said the council had no funds to relocate the street families, who he claimed came from other regions.
Area district commissioner Abdi Hassan concurred that most of the hawkers had come from other parts of the country to cash in on the festive season.
Mr Hassan said he would hold talks with council officials to find a lasting solution to the problem.
“We hope to address the hawkers, street families and beggars problem by early next year with the council’s support,” he said.
Areas hardest hit by the problem are Digo Road, Biashara Street, Mackinon Market, Mwembe Tayari, Jomo Kenyatta Avenue and Bondeni.
Two years ago, a fire engine worth Sh50 million was burnt by rioting hawkers after the council cleared them from the streets. Several council askaris were injured in the clashes.
Since then, hawkers have streamed back to the CBD taking over pavements and sections of roads.
Mr Abdul Mohamed, a motorist, said driving in the town had become a nightmare.
“It is difficult for us to drive in some of the roads since they are packed with goods,” he said.
Mombasa Town Clerk Tubmun Otieno could not be reached for comment.