Details of what Wa Iria’s Bill on hawkers says.

Hawkers displaying their wares along the pavements of Commercial Street Thika, right outside regular shops.
Hawkers and street vendors will soon be recognised as a profession like any other if a Bill sponsored by Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria is adopted.

The Hawkers and Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2018 aims at providing a legal framework for recognition, protection and regulation of hawkers and street vendors in all counties as primary pillars of economic and social development by putting in place an identification mechanism and minimum standards of operation.

It also aims at providing hawkers with a conducive and scare-free atmosphere to carry out their business without fear or harassment, eviction or extortion either from police or government officials.

It also proposes to compel county governments to give hawkers a 30-day notice before evicting them.

The Bill, among other things, also plans to structure the hawking business into cooperatives and create a national regulatory Authority to manage the trade. It also proposes trade zones in addition to setting up of specific times that hawkers will be allowed to conduct business in cities and major towns besides training for the traders.

Licensed hawker.

Hawkers will have to apply and acquire a registration certificate from the agency, which will allow them to apply for a licence from their respective county governments.

“A person designated by the authority shall be the registrar for the purpose of registering all hawkers and street vendors operating in Kenya,” states the bill.

Speaking in a media briefing a day after handing over the Bill to Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Wa Iria, who is the Bill’s sponsor, wondered why the government still treats street vendors and hawkers as criminals yet they form a vital cohort in the country’s economy. He said that hawkers must be recognised as economic facilitators in Kenya, pointing out that in developed countries, hawking has been structured and it has yielded success.

“They (hawkers) contribute over Sh3.6 trillion annually to our country’s economy, but they are treated as criminals and it is time we stop criminalising the informal sector,” said the governor.

According to the governor, hawkers should be used as frontline marketers for locally produced goods and products and should be able to attend trade fairs. He added that Chinese companies take advantage of local hawkers and use them to sell their electronic wares. The money in the long-run goes back to help develop China’s economy.

“Hawkers are the link between producers and buyers and should be respected and empowered. They should be provided with uniforms and badges for easy identification. The errant ones should be disciplined through their saccos,” the governor said.

“That’s why I’m drafting this Bill to legitimise the sector and end the insanity that has been witnessed before,” he added.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and MMC Africa Law Team Leader Edward Muriu after presenting the Hawkers and Street Vendors Bill (2018).

Designated spaces and times.

He noted that the Bill will also help improve the relationship between traders who own supermarkets, shops and stalls and the hawkers.

“Hawkers have no assigned places to sell their wares. They come and occupy the space outside the entrances of various shops and sell the items sold in these very premises. We will address this in the Bill,” Wa Iria said.

The governor asked lawmakers and county governments to support the Bill, saying it will also help create jobs for the youth.

“It will also settle the discontent of hawkers when it comes to the prescribed fees and charges that they pay which they have often complained are arbitrary,” Edward Muriu, the team leader of MMC Africa Law, said.

From next week, the governor said, they will start engaging hawkers across the counties and other important stakeholders, including those from academia, to get views from them aimed at finding a lasting solution to the issue. 
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