Traders kick out motorists from Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi

Traders from Wakulima market sell their wares along Landhis road following the closure of the market for cleaning.It has caused traffic snarl up along the road and the safety of the traders and customers has been compromised.Photo Tabitha Otwori

Traders have taken over an entire lane of the busy Haile Selassie Avenue outside Wakulima market. They have turned the road into a market, displaying their wares with wanton abandon.

This has angered pedestrians and motorists who have now been forced to compete for space in the remaining lane. The takeover by the traders of a huge section of Haile Selassie Avenue and Landhies Road has resulted in traffic chaos.

When former President Mwai Kibaki opened Muthurwa Market in 2009, many had hoped the modern facility would transform small-scale businesses. But no one thought they would flow on to the street.

Mama Wairimu, one of the tomato sellers, sits in the middle of the road calling out to pedestrians.

“Where do you want us to go, there is no space in the market and this is much easier for my customers,” she says.

Lack of amenities

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A spot check by the Metropolitan revealed that food vendors have also set up businesses in the streets as the county council turns a blind eye. To compound issues, some matatu drivers are using the opportunity to pick and drop passengers and goods right in the middle of the street, while some private cars and trucks indiscriminately park in the middle of the road.

When building the Wakulima market, the Government had envisaged a plan that included a 24-hour market with basic facilities like water, restrooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multi-storeyed stalls, a banking hall and an administration office.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Inside, there are no basic amenities such as water and the traders, including food vendors, have to buy 20-litre jerrycans of water.

“I sell chapati here and it is not easy, especially since there is no water. That coupled with constant sewer bursts… it is amazing how people do not get sick,” says Victor Mutua. [Nasibo Kabale] 

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