In Summary
  • This means the hawkers can now run their businesses with impunity until the moratorium is lifted.
  • City residents and visitors have been urged to follow the recommendations given to help keep the coronavirus at bay.
  • Residents criticised city askaris for being ruthless when arresting hawkers.

Hawkers in Nairobi and people running unlicensed businesses have a reason to smile, albeit with caution, as they display their wares on city streets, as measures to counter the coronavirus are put in place.

This is after Governor Mike Sonko suspended all arrests by the city county’s enforcement officers following confirmation of coronavirus cases in the country.

This means the hawkers can now run their businesses with impunity until the moratorium is lifted.

In a post on his Facebook page, the governor said that the order is in line with the directive given by President Uhuru Kenyatta to prevent the spread and exposure to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) which has since been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

COURTS SLOW DOWN

“I have suspended, with immediate effect, all arrests by the Nairobi City County government inspectorate and enforcement officers until further notice,” Sonko said.

The governor, who has been lying low since he was charged with corruption and misuse of public funds last year, said that with the courts scaling down their operations, it would be unfair to make more arrests.

“This is informed by the fact that operations of all courts of law have been suspended, hence suspects cannot be arraigned within 24 hours as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya,” Mr Sonko wrote.

WHO GUIDELINES

Invoking guidelines given by WHO, Sonko faulted the city inspectorate officers for holding arrested suspects for long periods of time in county vehicles before arraignment, which he said increases the risk of their exposure to coronavirus.

However, he asked the city inspectorate and enforcement departments to remain vigilant and ensure that the county’s by-laws are followed to the letter.

At the same time, Nairobi residents and visitors to the city have been urged to follow the recommendations given to help keep the coronavirus at bay.

There were varied reactions to Sonko’s directive, with some asking for protective equipment to counter the virus, while others criticised city askaris for being ruthless when arresting hawkers.