Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the dream that failed

There's been violence between hawkers and Nairobi authorities after a nighttime demolition at Muthurwa Market in downtown Nairobi, Capital FM reports.

The hawkers lit bonfires and barricaded sections of the roads to protest eviction from the market by city council police.
The tragedy of this is that Muthurwa was built four years ago as a new and promising innovation for street hawkers. The creation of a planned market was supposed to be better for the hawkers and for people downtown. Instead, as The Standard reported last year, the dream failed. "The plan included a 24-hour market with basic facilities like water, restrooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multi-storied stalls, a banking hall, and an administrative office," at a price of 700 million shillings ($8.6 million), The Standard noted. But. "Sixteen months down the line, Murhurwa has become the epitome of chaos. The 12-hectare complex has degenerated into a den of muggers where hawkers and matatu [shared van] operators jostle for space."The newspaper enumerated some of the problems: "Burst sewers, dusty if not muddy roads, congestion, pickpockets, and lack of water."
The sad fact: the hawkers and the cops are fighting over a total failure of public policy.


Hundreds of unlicensed vendors will be competing to sell Papal merchandise as the Pope visits Edinburgh and Glasgow this week, the Daily Record reports.

The newspaper reports that only seven traders applied for a street sales permit in Glasgow, and only one received a permit. Yet more than 100,000 people are expected to turn out to see Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday.

The Pontiff-related stuff expected to be for sale includes "Pope-on-a-rope soaps, action figures, coasters, clocks, fridge magnets, keyrings and car air fresheners." The Catholic Church is trying to seize some of the street vendors' business by selling Pope-themed products online.

The Pope is often viewed as a voice for social justice, but that doesn't mean that local officials will be lenient with unlicensed vendors. As a Glasgow City Council spokesman told the paper: "Trading standards officers will be targeting unlicensed street traders on the day and will, if necessary, seize goods."