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City askaris forcefully evict hawkers from Eastleigh's Mohamed Yusuf Haji Avenue

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Mohamed Yusuf Haji Avenue is the busiest in Eastleigh, with more than 50 malls that serve many shoppers daily.

Nairobi City County askaris forcefully evicted hawkers from Mohamed Yusuf Haji Avenue in Eastleigh, Nairobi, on Wednesday, with those affected saying no reason was given.

The avenue is the busiest in Eastleigh, with more than 50 malls that serve many shoppers daily.

The hawkers, who are permitted to start their businesses in Eastleigh at 5 pm, were caught off guard as they had just started setting up when they were confronted by dozens of askaris who ordered them to leave immediately.

Those who did not comply had their goods confiscated and loaded onto waiting vehicles.

The busy avenue quickly became deserted as hawkers hurriedly packed up their merchandise to avoid losing it. This unexpected action by the city askaris also disrupted shopping activities.

A man carries his stall to safety during the forceful eviction of hawkers on May 15, 2024, from Mohamed Yusuf Haji Avenue in Eastleigh, Nairobi. (Photo: Abdirahman Khalif)

The incident came just days after a similar confrontation on Eighth Street, where county officials were stoned and forced to leave after disrupting businesses.

A video of that incident went viral, with many Kenyans saying the askaris were the enemies of small business owners in Nairobi.

Hawkers expressed their frustration and confusion over the action, with Maureen Wanderawa, who sells clothes on Seventh Street, saying she pays the askaris Sh100 daily to operate.

Wanderawa said the askaris did not collect the fee on Wednesday, instead forcing her to leave.

"I don't know why they are forcing us out. They did not ask for any payment," she said

The Mohamed Yusuf Haji Avenue in Eastleigh, Nairobi, is pictured on May 15, 2024, following the forceful eviction of hawkers by Nairobi City County askaris. (Photo: Abdirahman Khalif)

Muhumed Maalim, who also sells clothes, regretted that they were harassed and their businesses closed by the very people who should be supporting them.

"They are paid through my tax. It's tough being a small business owner and a hawker here," said Muhumed, who is normally stationed near the Sunrise Shopping Mall.

Halima Kuteir, who sells women's clothes on Tenth Street, sat helplessly at her usual spot.

"I don't know where to go. I have a family to take care of. May Allah give me another source of income," she said.

Other hawkers, some as old as 45, returned home while others hung around, hoping they would be allowed to reopen their stalls.

Mohamed Adan, the chief executive officer of the Eastleigh Business District Association, said the association was not informed of the operation.

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