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Chaos in Eastleigh as traders protest hawker invasion – PHOTOS

Chaos reigned in Eastleigh on Wednesday as traders engaged in running battles with hawkers.

 

Shop owners protested hawkers’ “encroachment” into their space by shutting down in the ordinarily bustling shopping suburb.

They accused the hawkers of hurting their businesses by blocking access to malls and dissuading shoppers from buying from them.

Mr Hajji Abdi, a shop owner, attributed the standoff to an “inciting” statement by Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko while touring the area last week.

“We do not have a problem with hawkers as long as they do not block our storefronts,” said Mr Abdi.

“The problem is Mike Sonko, who incited them.”

PHOTOS | COURTESY
PHOTOS | COURTESY

The protracted battle, which began way back in 2013, has heightened with some residents reading politics in the clashes.

In September, hawkers contested a court eviction order, saying their livelihood depended on hawking in the area.

Starehe OCPD Alice Kimeli refused to comment on the matter, only saying: “We are waiting for the court’s verdict so that we can determine what to do about the issue.”

MAJOR CUSTOMERS

But Mr Antony Mbugua, a hawker, said: “The shop owners should not worry because we are their major customers, buying from them in wholesale and selling in retail.”

The hawkers blamed a gang called “Super Power”, compring people of Somali origin, for the on-and-off violence on them.

“I wonder why police do not arrest this gang,” said Mr Ahmed Osman, a businessman.