Bill proposes creation of Hawkers and Street Vendors Authority

NAIROBI. Hawkers in the country will soon have a sigh of relief if a proposed bill protecting and recognizing their trade is adopted as law.

The Hawkers and Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill drafted by MMC Africa Law and presented to the Senate today if adopted will see structures put in place at both the County and National Government level to decriminalize the hawking trade by setting out clear dispute resolution mechanisms.

According to Edward Muriu the MMC Africa Law Team Leader, the proposed Bill also seeks to establish the Hawkers and Street Vendors Authority.

“The Authority’s job will be to facilitate the registration, regulation and monitoring of trade by hawkers and street vendors in Kenya, oversee the functioning of County Vending Committees in the counties of Kenya, establish a national bureau and maintain a national registry of hawkers and street vendors in Kenya and oversee the establishment of county tribunals to hear appeals of hawkers and street vendors aggrieved by the decision of the county governments,” he explained after the presentation of the draft bill to Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka.

The Draft Bill comes at a time when Nairobi residents are decrying the overrun of the central business district with hawkers. On the other hand, there have in the past been numerous reports of hawkers constantly complaining of harassment from their respective county governments. Once in operation, hawkers will now enjoy rights to adequate facilities and compensation should their properties be damaged.

The Draft Bill as Mr. Muriu explained is geared towards regulating a sector that has largely remained unregulated over the years but one that cannot be ignored.

“This Bill is aimed at providing a legal framework for recognition, protection, and regulation of hawkers and street vendors in all the counties as primary pillars of economic and social development. This will be achieved by setting up identification mechanism and minimum standards of operation,” Mr. Muriu expounded.

It will also settle the discontent of hawkers when it comes to the prescribed fees and charges that they pay which they have often complained to be arbitrary.

It is expected that for once in the history of the country, there will be data collected and utilized appropriately on the hawkers and street vendors throughout the country.