Hawkers could soon be shielded from council and police harassment once a bill sponsored by Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria is passed into law.
The bill dubbed Hawkers and Street Vendors Authority landed in the Senate on Tuesday and debate is expected to begin next week. Under the bill, an authority tasked with the registration, regulation and monitoring of trade by hawkers and street vendors will be established.
It seeks to have a comprehensive database of hawkers and street vendors countrywide maintained. Wa Iria, said close to 90 per cent of small businesses are hawkers and thus it will form a national bureau and maintain a national registry of hawkers and street vendors in Kenya.
“Hawkers as we speak are being treated as pests. The bill seeks to legitimize their business and restructure it all the way from the grassroots to the national level,” he said. The authority will also monitor the workings of the County Vending committees in all counties that advice county governments on matters relating to hawking and street vending.
The authority will be run by a board of directors appointed by the Industrialization Cabinet secretary, proposes the bill. There will also be county tribunals to listen to appeals by hawkers and street vendors if they are aggrieved by county government decisions. The bill also aims to end tussles concerning the payment of prescribed fees and charges by hawkers, and proposes that every county government in consultation with the County Vending Committee designate vending zones classified as restriction-free, restricted or no-vending zones.
Once the bill becomes law, a licensed hawker and street vendor will only be evicted or relocated after being given a 30-day notice. Mr Iria said under the bill, hawkers will operate as co-operative societies and would also have representatives in trade unions and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.