The electioneering era has been a lucrative business season for Kitengela hawkers, who now operate without restrictions on time.
Ordinarily, hawkers in the populous town operate from 3:00 pm, but in the recent past, they have been opening their businesses from as early as 6:00 am till late in the evening.
Elated hawkers say despite the challenging economic times, which have adversely affected business, they continue reaping big from prolonged working hours.
"I sell second-hand jackets and sweaters. I am making more profits from daily sales because I am working for long hours than usual. To me, the cold is also a blessing in disguise because customers are buying warm clothes in large quantities," Enock Mutua, a hawker, says.
Mutua says previously he would get a profit of less than Ksh1,000 per day, but he has recently been making profits of up to Ksh3,300 per day.
The hawkers further celebrate that the Ksh30 levies charged by the Kajiado County government per day have remained constant.
"Nowadays, we are intimidated by the presence of county askaris. Nobody permitted us to work all day; it started with a few hawkers who opened early. We all started opening early after realizing they were not harassed and arrested. What began four months ago is now a trend. The working environment is now ample. We are grateful to the County government and we continue praying that this continues even after elections, "Ann Njoki, a utensils hawker, said.
She says her profits have increased to a high of Ksh1,700 per day from the previous Ksh600.
The lack of restrictions has also witnessed an increased number of food hawkers who move from office to office selling a variety of meals mainly consisting of Pilau and Githeri ferried using buckets and hot pots.
Registered hawkers in Kitengela
Kitengela has over 700 registered hawkers, but the number has increased as traders now occupy open spaces while others operate beside roads in large numbers.
Open spaces have now been turned into temporary open-air markets.
Between 2013 and 2017, the hawkers' issue was a thorn in the flesh where hawking was prohibited in the town.
Hawkers were locked in court battles with the county government amid rampant cases of hawkers harassment that eventually saw the hawking business diminish.
The hawking business came back to life after the 2017 general elections, where hawkers now registered under an umbrella union were permitted to operate from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. On Sundays, a market day, the hawkers are allowed to operate the entire day.
Street lights within the town's Central Business District (CBD) have also facilitated the hawkers to extend working hours, with most closing business between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
Most of the hawkers in Kitengela deal in second-hand clothes and shoes.