A man who was shot by the police during an evening battle with city council askaris succumbed to his injuries while waiting to be taken to the hospital by the Sonko Rescue Team.
The rescue team, which claims to be doing ambulance services among other things was caught up in mad traffic.
The man, a city hawker, was shot by the police who were escorting county askaris to purge the CBD of the hawkers.
Nairobi hawkers, in a bid to evade paying taxes, wait until evening when working hours are closed then descend on every available space in the city’s central business district. This is despite the fact that it is illegal to hawk in the CBD.
Every evening, county askaris and the police engage hawkers in running battles, as they attempt to drive them out of the city centre to designated areas for hawking. The running battles are always reinforced by the police because the hawkers and other opportunists take advantage of the lawlessness to rob people going about their businesses.
ForÂ John Muchoki, a violent eviction last Thursday turned fateful when police used live bullets, accidentally shooting him. As he waited for the Sonko Rescue Team, which promised to respond to his distress but was one minute too late, he succumbed to his injuries and died.
According to Kim Waweru, chairman of the Hawkers Association, police who were accompanying city council askaris in the operation used live bullets and fired severally before aiming at the deceased.
â€œMuchoki was among other hawkers who were caught in the scuffle and as he ran away carrying his merchandise, he was hit on his back by a bullet,â€ said Kim.
The battle between hawkers and city council askaris, as ugly as it is, remains an uneasy topic for the political class both at county and national level. It is also steeped in ego clashes as a section of jubilee alliance leadership use it to score cheap sympathy votes from hawkers who feel the county government of Dr. Evans Kidero is hunting them down.
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko supports hawkers trading in the CBD. However, considering that these hawkers often open their wares on walking pavements, this causes human traffic as people crowd the available walkways. Crowding gives petty thieves, pickpockets and other opportunistic criminals space to terrorize city residents, making the whole hawking business in the CBD not only irritant but also dangerous.
But the worst thing about CBD hawking is that the traders do not want to pay taxes to the city government even as they demand to trade their wares within the city centre.
The hawkers, mostly youths, are said to act for their barons, who provide them with the wares on condition that they achieve a specific sales target. They earn through commissions until they are able to amass enough capital to start on their own. Many often don’t, leading to increased haplessness and drunkenness, all in the race to the top.