Over 4,000 traders operating along the Nairobi-Nanyuki Railway Line at Karatina Town in Nyeri County are up in arms over an eviction order issued by the Kenya Railway Corporation to pave way for its revival.
The traders who have established structures along the railway line that became derelict in the late 1990s termed the move prejudicial to their livelihoods that have for years been dependent upon the line.
Hundreds of irate traders who on Thursday travelled to Nyeri Town to have an audience with Governor Mutahi Kahiga over the matter, said they have been operating along the line for over two decades even when the line was functional.
“We don’t understand why Kenya Railways want us to vacate now whereas we have been operating even when the railway line was up and running,” said business woman, Lucy Kagwi.
“Some of the traders who sell their wares on the ground used to move them a bit to pave way for the passing train and then resume business afterwards,” Ms. Kagwi said.
The trader continued that they stand to suffer irreparable losses should KR effect the move as many of them are servicing loans from financial institutions they secured to expand their businesses.
Another trader, Duncan Mathenge wondered why Kenya Railways was in a hurry to evict them yet there was no sign of works on the ground on any part of the line whose several sections have fallen away.
Governor Kahiga while addressing them at his office grounds termed the move unfortunate coming at a time when the government was trying to promote small businesses.
“This move that sets to put the lives of over 4,000 traders in jeopardy amounts to harassment and Kenya Railways must know that we will not go with the directive,” stated the governor.
“The people who are being targeted are among the lowest earners and we must ensure that their trade and welfare is safeguarded,” the county boss said.
Governor Kahiga who later left for a fact finding mission on the market, including another at Chaka Trading Centre where over 2,000 traders are also operating along the railway line, said his administration will nonetheless engage KR officials on the way forward with regard to the matter.
The line was constructed in 1913 and extended to Nanyuki during World War II to ostensibly supply British Forces with equipment.
It later became the lifeline for farmers in Central Region and was used for transporting produce from Nanyuki, Karatina and Sagana.
By Samuel Waititu