Police lob teargas to disperse protesting Mukiriti traders.

Mukiriti traders match through Thika Town protesting against the infiltration of street vendors within the CBD. 

Thika police were on Tuesday forced to lob teargas canisters to disperse demonstrating Mukiriti traders who had barricaded part of Kenyatta Highway at the Stadium roundabout.

The traders were protesting against what they termed as the county government’s failure to evict hawkers from Thika’s CBD.

Carrying placards, twigs and an effigy of the Governor Ferdinand Waititu, the traders matched through the streets of Thika chanting against the infiltration of “foreign hawkers” into the CBD, arguing that the hawkers had rendered their businesses redundant.

“The governor promised to evict all hawkers operating from the town centre but until now, they are still selling their merchandise in town. If they will continue selling from here, we will also bring our stock and occupy every space in town,” said one of the traders.

They claimed that Mukiriti Market had ample space to accommodate all them including the hawkers in town adding that the street vendors had no reason being allowed back into the CBD.

Though their demonstration was rather peaceful, it paralysed business along Kenyatta Highway and Commercial Street, with curious onlookers parading along the streets and shops to get wind of what was happening.

Their attempts to lit bonfires and burn the effigy of the governor were thwarted by the police who dispersed them and restored order after a while.

Responding to their grievances, Regional Principal County Administrator Christopher Wanjau called for patience among the traders and Thika residents as the county government was working on a long-term solution to the hawker menace.

Wanjau added the county enforcement team was doing everything possible to temporarily contain the situation by arresting and confiscating the hawkers’ wares so as to discourage them from selling along the town streets.

“Currently our stores are full with the merchandise confiscated from these hawkers. Ironically, 80% of these hawkers who are causing us problems in town are the same ones operating in Mukiriti Market. The same people demonstrating will in the evening come and jam the streets with their wares,” he said.

(See also: Mukiriti Traders vow to invade CBD if Kiambu Government fails to evict hawkers.)

“Plans are at an advanced stage to put up a modern storey market at Mukiriti and another one in a yet to be disclosed land within Thika town,” Wanjau concluded.

The issue of hawking has been a thorn in the flesh for many residents and traders in Thika with majority of them requesting the county leadership to seek a permanent solution to their problems.

Last week, Governor Waititu said that the current compound that hosts the ‘Government Quarters’ opposite the Thika Stadium will be converted into a business park once his government completed the construction of the 43 housing units at the current county government Depot (behind Thika Town Hall).

“We have set aside about KES. 30million for the project. Once complete, we shall transfer all those living at government quarters to the new houses at Depot and convert the land into a business hub,” he said at Starehe Grounds during the official launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Thika Sub-County.


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