Senator Okenyuri sponsors bill to protect street vendors

4 min

An aerial view of Nairobi’s Kawangware market on July 03, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Nominated Senator Esther Okenyuri has sponsored a bill in the Senate seeking to provide a framework to regulate street vending across the country.

Okenyuri said small scale trade contributes significantly to the growth of trade in the country and that currently there is no legal framework governing street vending that has contributed to massive challenges within the sector.

The Senator who is also the Vice Chairperson of the Tourism, Trade and Industry Committee in the Senate believes that the regulation of the trade will therefore ensure that street vendors are able to transact business in favourable conditions since they play a role in the country’s economic growth.

“The objective of this bill that I have sponsored in the Senate is to provide a standard framework to entrench the right to informal trading, for the designation and use of public space for informal trading and for the effective organization and regulation of informal trading in the country,” said Okenyuri.

The bill states the Cabinet Secretary for Trade should keep and maintain a data base in collaboration with county governments of a national registry of street vendors in Kenya, prescribe in consultation with county governments and relevant stakeholders the minimum standards for the conduct of street vending and regulation of street vendors in Kenya.

The Cabinet Secretary will be required to utilize data collected by county governments relating to street vending and street vendors in Kenya for planning and efficient management of vending and trade in counties, prescribe standards for the imposition of fees and other charges payable for the registration and licensing.

Trade Cabinet Secretary shall prescribe in consultation with the relevant entities responsible for planning and infrastructure, standards and guidelines for the proper planning and design of street vending zones and carry out any other activity incidental or conducive to the carrying out of its functions under the Act or regulations made under the Act.

“Each county executive committee member in charge of Trade in all the 47 Counties shall be required through a notice in the county Gazette, demarcate and designate the county into restriction-free vending zones, restricted vending zones or no-vending zones,” said Okenyuri.

A trader hawks fruits along the streets of Eldoret town on April 22, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The legislator seeks to have the county executive committee member in charge of Trade in each county to take into consideration the commercial viability of an area proposed to be designated as a street vending zone before designating it to accommodate traders in the various urban centres.

The bill states that licensed vendors shall not carry out the business where such business consists of acts that are unlawful, is contrary to public interest, is contrary to national security and inhibits the implementation of national or county policies with respect to the regulation of vending business.

Okenyuri explains in the bill that a respective county executive committee member may impose through county legislation such conditions as may be necessary, restricting the vending business that may be conducted in a restricted vending zone.

The bill recommends that a person who conducts vending activities in a restricted vending zone without a special permit or in a no vending zone commits an offence and is be liable, on conviction, to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings.

“Each county government shall progressively provide for the construction and maintenance of vending centres to enable the efficient carrying out of street vending activities in a fair, transparent and safe manner,” said Okenyuri.

The bill proposes that in constructing and maintaining a vending centre, the county executive committee member shall take into account the recommended location in the county vending plan, the number of street vendors within the respective locality and the need to ensure that the existing businesses are not adversely affected by the construction and maintenance.

The bill recommends that a county executive committee member may declare a zone or part of a zone to be a no-vending zone for any public purpose and relocate any street vendors vending in that area and in accordance with county legislation evict a street vendor whose vending license has been revoked or who carries out vending activities contrary to the respective county legislation.

The bill states that a county executive committee member shall not evict or relocate a licensed street vendor unless a notice has been issued and the vendor is heard on the proposed eviction or relocation in accordance with the respective county legislation.

Nairobi county government askaris arrest a hawker who was selling his goods along Muindi Mbingu street on Decemebr 24, 2022. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

“A street vendor shall be relocated by the county executive committee member in such manner as may be prescribed by county legislation, relocation shall not take place unless the county government has installed or provided essential facilities such as water, lighting, security and waste disposal facilities in the area to which the vendor is to be relocated,” said Okenyuri.

The bill recommends that a street vendor who, after the expiry of the specified notice period, fails to relocate or vacate the place specified in the vending license, shall be liable to pay for every day of default a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings or as may be determined by the county government.

The bill states that where a street vendor’s goods or assets utilised for their street vending activities are confiscated under this Act, the officer confiscating the goods shall issue the street vendor with a receipt detailing the specific goods confiscated and the approximate value of the goods.

“The vendor should be informed of the reasons for confiscation, the location from which the goods may be recovered, the time within which the confiscated goods must be recovered and such other information as may be prescribed by county legislation,” said Okenyuri.

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