The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Mombasa Court Reinstates Hawkers to the Streets

Mombasa hawkers yesterday won a battle against the county government after a High Court ordered they continue to do their businesses outside the Central Business District (CBD) pending hearing of a case they have filed.

Judge Edward Muriithi said the court had a primarily duty under articles 21, 22 and 23 of the constitution to protect their socio-economic rights.

"The county government should provide areas for the hawkers to operate since they have a right to earn a living just like any other Kenyan," Muriithi said.

He ordered the county government and the hawkers, with the assistance of their counsels, to immediately hold a meeting so as to decide where the hawkers will be taken. The parties are to present a report in court within 14 days.

Muriithi said the hawkers were in negotiations with the county government when they were evicted from the city centre.

He noted that the hawkers were operating in the city centre with an agreement between then and the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council.

The hawkers were on January 10 violently evicted from the city centre by council askaris and hired goons. At least three people were injured as police clashed with the hawkers.

The couty government says it wants to clear the streets from thousands of hawkers that sell their wares in every corner, blocking shop entrances and inconveniencing pedestrians.

Yesterday, judge Muriithi ordered: "Pending hearing of the petitioners' petition herein, as a conservatory measure, the court orders the respondents to permit the petitioners do their hawking business in areas outside the CBD as previously agreed with the county government predecessor, the Municipal Council of Mombasa subject to payment daily or weekly."

He however said that the concerns of the stakeholders affected by the hawkers carrying out their businesses in the areas were also to be considered. He said that the county government being the custodian of the county assets had the right to protect them and allow free flow of traffic, Mombasa being a major tourist attraction centre.

He also urged the county government to provide the hawkers with areas to operate their businesses putting into consideration the security of the town especially against terrorism, robbery and other criminal activities.

Hawkers, through their lawyer Leornard Shimaka, had moved to court seeking partial injunction orders to allow them continue operating and earning a living outside the Central Business District pending hearing of the main petition of being allowed to operate in the Central Business District.

The case will be further mentioned on March 14.

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