Kenya: NMS, City Hall Under Pressure to Tame Askaris Terrorising Hawkers

Pressure is mounting on City Hall and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to rein in rogue city inspectorate officers manhandling hawkers in the city.

This comes just days after a hawker lost all his teeth, reportedly after he was handcuffed and assaulted by city inspectorate officers.

It is alleged that the hawker, identified as Anthony Maina, was accosted by the askaris after he failed to pay a bribe of Sh100 as had Sh20 at the time.

Mr Maina, who sells socks in the city centre, is admitted to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.

Raising the issue before the Nairobi County Assembly, Deputy Majority Whip Waithera Chege decried increasing cases of arbitrary arrests, harassment and extortion of hawkers by officers.

The Nairobi South Ward MCA accused police of brutally attacking hawkers in the city instead of arresting and having them arraigned as is required by law.

"A few days ago, a hawker lost all his teeth after he was allegedly handcuffed and brutally whipped with a metal rod by county askaris before they exited the scene in a county registered vehicle," said Ms Chege.

"In a modern civilised society, such heinous actions by government officers should not be entertained."

Pressure to act

The assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs committee will now take to task City Hall and NMS over actions against the officers involved in the incident.

The committee is expected to find out whether an investigation into the conduct of the implicated officers has taken place and if so, submit a report on the same.

This is in addition to measures being taken by the two administrations to end cases of brutality by city inspectorate officers against traders and residents.

The deputy majority whip cited a similar incident in 2014, where a hawker almost lost his eyesight in the hands of county askaris, and in 2018, when hawker Yakub Rashid lost his teeth in a similar manner.

"I urge this assembly to do whatever is necessary, within its powers, to protect Nairobi residents against rogue inspectorate officers," she said.

The officers maintain law and order by enforcing Nairobi's by-laws.

Following cases of brutality and extortion, and complaints by the public, NMS has partnered with the National Police Service to train at least 1,000 of them as part of reforms.

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