16 February 2013

Kenya: Politicians Behind Traders Riot, Says Nyahururu Clerk

The clerk to Nyahururu Municipal Council Justus Mutwiri has accused politicians of inciting small-scale traders into storming the council premises on Thursday.

Property worth millions of shillings was destroyed when the traders' efforts to present grievances to the clerk failed. Mutwiri said he deliberately refused to address the traders after they pelted stones at him.

The traders were protesting the abolition of the annual single business permit and the introduction of fees that requires each trader to pay an extra Sh100 daily. This would push the levy from Sh1,500 to Sh6,200.

"We had held several meetings with all stakeholders, including the immediate former councillors who are now pretending the new rules have been introduced behind their back," he said. He said the new fee was Sh20 daily and not Sh100 as claimed by the traders.

Mutwiri said the council was implementing rules that were passed by the council in 2008 to boost service delivery.

The council started collecting the new fees in January. Some traders have clashed with council askaris as the former accuse the guards of harassing them over the fees.

The council said annual permits had put the council in a fix when issues arose over ownership of sheds they were operating from.

"Some traders operate on road reserves and undeveloped privately-owned plots and we have had problems when owners try to eject them. Traders use the permits in court cases to prove they own the plots," he said.

The clerk said the council will not allow businessmen to operate without paying fees since they need services such as garbage collection and road repair.

He said consultations would have not have taken place if the traders had consulted him over emerging issues instead of resorting to violence.

He said the council would strive to provide quality services but called for cooperation from all stakeholders and prompt payment of taxes.

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