24 January 2013

Kenya: Hawkers Invade Eldoret As Council Staff Go On Strike

HUNDREDS of hawkers have invaded Eldoret's town centre two days after council workers downed their tools in protest over their salary increment.

The town centre was a no-go zone yesterday due to the congestion brought about by the rowdy hawkers who are banned from conducting their business within the cental business district.

The town was filled with all sorts of merchandise, with Oloo, Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro and Sosiani streets being the most affected. Clothes vendors chanted songs to attract customers as they dominated most of the prohibited areas.

Pedestrians were forced to walk cautiously around the town as there was virtually no space left for them. "We are free to move from one street to another selling our wares. We do not fear that we will be arrested," said Peter Mwangi.

He said he sold most of his wares "as business is booming". Mwangi said council askaris exploit them by demanding for bribes before they are allowed to sell their wares.

However, Uganda Road,the town's major street, was not affected by the hawkers invasion. Revenue collection officials suspended their services to join their countrywide colleagues in the strike.

Car owners now enjoy free movement and parking within the town. The Kenya Local Government Workers Union had earlier this month issued a strike notice over the salary increment they had agreed with the government last year.

KLGWU's national secretary general Boniface Munyao, in a circular to all local authorities in the country, faulted the government for failing to honour the deal.

The workers are demanding a 60 per cent pay increase for the lowest paid employee and 30 per cent for the highest. The government has however said salaries of all local authorities staff will be deliberated upon by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission.

The workers have vowed to continue with their strike, which has paralysed most basic services like water supply, garbage collection and sewerage services, until the government honours meets their demands.

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