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Westlands hawkers call out governor Johnson Sakaja over demolished stalls

Over 100 hawkers on June 19, 2023, camped outside Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja’s office in protest over what they said is a number of challenges they are facing.

While expressing their grievances, they lamented that their shops were recently demolished by the city Inspectorate and the county government had not reached out to them to find alternative places for them.

They said they resorted to protesting after their area Member of County Assembly (MCA) Maurice Onyango Ochieng and MP Tim Wanyonyi failed to pay attention to them.

The aggrieved vendors said they had campaigned for the governor in the last election after he promised to improve their working conditions.

“We wake up at 5am to vote for him and the plans he is bringing are haunting us… we don’t have jobs, we will bring our children here if he doesn’t listen to us,” said one of the vendors.

In his address, one of their leaders, who only referred to himself as Charles, said their colleague had recently died of what they said was depression after being arrested several times by the City Inspectorate, better known as Kanjos.

“Tunaomba Sakaja atusikize na atuhurumie juu kule kwingine biashara zinaendelea na tumeshindwa kwani ni Westland peke yake (we’re asking Governor Sakaja to listen to us, businesses are ongoing in other areas, and we are wondering if the plan was targeting Westland only),” Charles said.

Most of them said that for the last month, they have not been working and paying rent, and school fees are becoming a headache.

“Some of us have not taken food, the governor should consider us because here are some women who cannot do other jobs.”

Among them are students who do hawking to raise school fees.

In his outcry, Mr John (not his real name) is a second-year student at the University of Nairobi and demolition at Westland has left him with many questions as he thinks of other avenues of raising fees.

In his recent remarks, the governor had assured hawkers that his administration will restore dignity and order across.

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