By Nep Journal Correspondent:
Business in Nairobi’s busy trading hub Eastleigh has been paralyzed after more than 40 shopping malls in the area started a three-day shutdown citing frustration by hawkers and poor service delivery by the County government of Nairobi in the area.
Mall owners reached the decision after a recent spat with hawkers over blockage of entrances to their premises as well as buildup of heaps of garbage near the well decorated shopping centers.
A clash between the two sides ensued recently when the owner of Moonlight Mall tried to clear hawkers from in front of the premises resulting in a melee that was later contained by the police.
Eastleigh Business District Association chairman, Ibrahim Hussein said businessmen in the area have invested more than KSh100 billion with Eastleigh contributing 35 per cent of the City Hall revenue.
Hussein decried the mushrooming of hawkers in the area accusing them of blocking entrances and exit points of shopping malls leading to reduced activity inside the bustling business premises. He however said they were not objecting to the presence of hawkers in the area per se but called for organization in doing business.
“We have no problem with hawkers; we are only appealing to have them relocated. We have over 20,000 hawkers with only 200 them being genuine” he said.
He added most of the hawkers move to Eastleigh from town and other areas after they are chased by council askaris.
Ibrahim said the business community would petition Nairobi governor, Dr. Evans Kidero to intervene and relocate the hawkers.
Traders are now threatening to close shop from Wednesday to Friday on weekly basis until the standoff is resolved.
Hawkers on their side a busy day in the market as they made increased sales following the closure.
Chairman of the Kamukunji Hawkers Association, Haji Abdullahi said the hawkers were happy with malls closure as they will be able to sell more in the absence of their well to do colleagues.
He asked mall owners to reduce the rent so that they too could move in.
“We are excited that the rich are considerate to let us trade without them. I hope they close for longer,” said Mr Abdullahi while calling on the mall owners to reduce the rent to allow hawkers to rent space in their premises.
Abdullahi said City was to blame for the hawkers menace as they allocated their land to well-connected individuals rendering them homeless.