Uproar ensues over planned eviction of hawkers in Thika town

A simmering feud has emerged in Thika town between hundreds of small-scale business owners and Kiambu County as the governor’s office attempts to reorganize the town.

Over 700 hawkers are expected to be evicted from the central business district as the popular town prepares to become a city, a decision that has irritated merchants who have vowed to stay.

In a seven-day notice issued by John Mungai, the Thika Sub-County administrator, any hawkers discovered selling their wares along the streets and walkways will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Mungai states, in a letter copied to the Thika deputy county commissioner and police, that the town is overcrowded.

Kiambu County government plans to relocate all mitumba clothing and shoe dealers to the already packed Mukiriti market, which it believes has ample space for everyone.

However, the hawkers, some of whom have been operating for over a decade, argue that they have no other home and no other source of income, and that evicting them would be equal to abetting lawlessness.

The sellers, led by James Mburu, a hawker in the busy town for twenty years, claim they only operate in the evening and hence do not interfere with vital town activities.

The hawkers claim Wamatangi was duped by a few wealthy cartels who only want their businesses to prosper while they suffer, and they have asked him to meet with them to discuss their issue.

Another hawker, James Karanja, claims that the presence of hawkers in the town has considerably reduced insecurity and that any attempt to disrupt their activities will result in anarchy.

Jane Njeri, who claims to have been educating her children with the proceeds of her business, expressed disappointment that the government, which had pledged to empower them from the ground up, has began to torture them.

If the county government does not reverse its eviction plans, the hawkers have pledged to hold a series of protests beginning Thursday this week to put pressure on Wamatangi to solve the matter.

Despite many crackdowns and warnings, previous county leaders were unable to successfully evict the hawkers.

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