Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria is rooting for a new Bill, which, if enacted, will legalise hawking and street vending.

The Hawkers and Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2018, which was drafted by MMC Africa Law) Bill, aims at providing  conducive and scare-free atmosphere to carry on their business without fear or harassment, eviction or extortion either from police or government officials.

 Speaking in a media briefing a day after handing over the Bill to Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Dr Wa Iria, who is the Bill’s sponsor, wondered why the government still treats street vendors and hawkers as criminals yet they form a vital cohort in the country’s economy.

“For a long time now, this country has treated street vendors and hawkers as criminals engaged in illegal activities despite they key contribution in the country’s economy. Hawkers have been exposed to too much bribery and extortion culture under the local police and municipal authorities. this bill actually seeks to answer the question of, until when are we going to criminalize hawker,” said Wa Iria.

The Bill also seeks to provide a legal framework for recognition, protection and regulation of hawkers and street vendors in all the counties as primary pillar of economic /social development by setting identification mechanism and minimum standards of operation.

By creating the hawking and street vending zones, the bill further intends to decriminalize the trade by setting out clear dispute resolution mechanism and also calls for the central and county governments infrastructure planning and development authorities to factor in street vending facilities and promote inter- counties trade.

“The hawker issue is not just a Nairobi or Murang’a issue, it is a national issue. In this Bill, we want to see a situation where all hawkers are recognized. We want to see county government factor in hawkers in their plans. We want to see them  registered, allocated specific business zones, encouraged to form cooperatives  and provided with full security just like other business community,” he said.

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Other key areas the Bill seeks to enforce are establishment of a Hawkers and Street Vendors Registration Authority, establishment of of county vending committees in charge of licensing, rights and obligations applicable to to registered hawkers and vendors and also penal provisions for offences committed under the Bill.

If passed, the frequent  running battles between the hawkers  and the city askaris and the evening stampedes along the streets of major towns in Kenya would  become a thing of the past as hawkers get down to more proper and structured business with full protection.

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