Over 500 small scale traders operating along Kismayu road in Garissa are counting losses running into millions of shillings after their kiosks were flattened overnight by Garissa county Askaris in an exercise to clear structures on road reserves.
According to sources who requested anonymity, the demolition is also meant to bring sanity within the central business district that has witnessed massive growth and encroachment on public land and road reserves in the recent past.
But the agitated traders who spoke to KNA Friday accused a local tycoon of using the urban planning department and the askaris to demolish their ‘source of their livelihoods.’
“Why demolish at night and destroy valuable properties if you are genuinely clearing the road reserves. We pay Sh20 per day to the council, what has now changed?,” posed Zainab Ibrahim, one of the affected traders.
“We demand compensation and alternative site to carry on with our businesses. Thousands of families will directly or directly sleep on an empty stomach tonight,” she added.
Ibrahim said they depend on these businesses to feed their families and pay school fees for their children.
Another trader, Saadia Mohamed said the little profit they make has enabled them to acquire Tuk-tuk, boda bodas and some taxis for their sons who cannot get employment to prevent them from being lured into terror groups.
“We have created jobs for children which the national and county government has not been able to provide. This was destroyed overnight by insensitive council askaris and county officials who are only interested in pursuing selfish interests,” she said.
Structures of the demolished kiosks were taken and dumbed at the Garissa dumpsite along Fafi road, some 5 kilometers away from the town.
Efforts to reach Garissa municipal board officials for comment were futile as their mobile phones went unanswered.
On Sunday, the Garissa Municipal in collaboration with local NGOs and human rights activists among them Muhuri, Muslims for human rights and Kesho alliance will carry out a Garissa town streets cleanup.
By Jacob Songok