Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Street Economy

You never know what tomorrow will bring; so act today. That’s how I am feeling today. I was going to write a post on the street economy. The economy that the majority of our country’s sons and daughters thrive on.

That brings me to the question of street traders (call them hawkers). In the last 2 days we have witnessed to what to me seems like a public interest exercise. I witnessed and saw on TV some GSU hammer a street trader mercilessly as if the person has committed a crime against humanity. There is now a public declaration that anyone buying merchandise from the hawkers is to be fined 10,000 Ksh. or spend their days in some cell for 3 months. How enforceable that is, is a question for the courts.

Street trading is a two by two enterprise. They bring what they have on the streets and we buy their wares at cheap prices. Either way we all gain, if you think about it. Whether we like or not, street traders are here to stay. We engage in buying and selling in their wares in sheer pleasure. Infact the truth is many families are today being fed off the street.

What we should be asking ourselves then is “why do persons engage in street trading?”. The reason is simple; Convenience. The wares are on the street, I can pick the items after work. Second reason; Costs.

When the Government kicks out the street traders from the streets in the manner they do; I see a violation of a basic right. The Economic right. The Middle class everywhere in the world would love to stay in a good environment, forget the poor, and do nothing about it. Ignore the problems of the poor and you will forever put on those concrete walls several inches that Wangari Maathai was complaining about.

Anyone who has tried to do business in town can tell you; Rent per day could be as high as a Thousand Shillings. Count taxes and council fees then you end up with no profit. Doing business in town is a preserve of the rich, period! Yet you have a mass that is highly educated, yet there are no jobs to do. The number soars everyday you hear there is a graduation at some college or university.

The government then gives them an alternative of going to the backside of the Ngara Market. The street traders may have gone to no Business School but they no for sure their customers will not go to that side of town. That is why they refuse vehemently to go there. What Musikari Kombo & the city Hall Fathers sitting in their privileged leather seats see is a crime cartel. To me, it is just someone protesting against apparent denial of a right to live and earn.

I for one will admit to opposing the street traders for one fact. They breed crime and that is my main worry.

But think about it critically. What about their children? What about their daily living? Would you go to the streets to trade if you had an alternative? How would you like your friends seeing you shouting “Mia, Mia , Soo, ya mwisho, bei ya jioni” Obviously you wouldn’t ! it is not easy for anyone. Yet many have been rescued from committing crimes by engaging in street trading. Can you brave the merciless whipping from the city council askaris?

The City hall fathers should look for an alternative inside town where many can reach them. Convert a building into a hawkers market and place them there. Location, location, location is important to any business. Let them live and Earn!!!

The Mayor of Nairobi Goes Mad

Just what would be the justification of hiking the parking fees from 70/= to Ksh. 140 everyday? That is totally ridiculous. Whatever it is they are taking at City Hall should be withdrawn.