Kisumu hawkers fight relocation from town centre

A street littered with garbage in Kisumu’s town centre. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A street littered with garbage in Kisumu’s town centre. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Hawkers and boda boda operators in Kisumu have become a law unto themselves as county officials make new relocation bid.

The hawkers who have resisted previous attempts to move them out of the city centre, have been blamed for the dirty lakeside town.

Efforts by the county to move the traders from the city centre to five new modern markets built at a cost of over Sh700 million have been futile, with intense opposition aided by small-scale fish and fresh produce traders as well as politicians.

Currently, the group occupies key roads including Kenyatta Highway, Oginga Odinga Street, the bus park and areas adjacent to Kibuye market.

Matters have been complicated by politicians who have been accused of inciting the traders against moving to markets built for them.

For instance, in 2014, hundreds of traders demonstrated for two days after they were removed from open air Oile market.

Police had to be called to disperse the angry traders. Armed officers were then put on a 24-hour guard for two months to block them from accessing it.

“These people end up littering the streets with plastic bags, banana peels and other garbage,” said Mr Audi Ogada, Kisumu voice residents association’s chairman.

Boda boda operators, who were allowed back into the central business district and exempted from paying parking fees and taxes by Governor Jack Ranguma, have been accused of harassing residents and causing chaos in the town.