Anthony Maina ,25, whose entire teeth were, in July, plucked out by Nairobi City County Askaris after he failed to give them a ksh100 bribe, today, appeared before the county’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) after it emerged that there have been increased cases of harassment of hawkers by the enforcement team.
Anthony brought into the limelight the harassment hawkers go through daily by narrating how he almost lost his life at the hands of the kanjos four months ago.
“I lost my teeth because I refused to give these officers Ksh100. During that particular day I had only Ksh20 in my pocket and when I asked them to give me time to at least look for more money, they refused and clobbered me”, he said.
Another trader, Francis Maina, who appeared before the committee alleged that the inspectorate team has also been harassing taxi drivers.
During the proceeding, Deputy Majority Whip Waithera Chege accused the kanjos of unleashing brutality on hawkers instead of arresting and having them arraigned as is required by the law.
“It is sad that as we speak, people cannot conduct their businesses without harassment by people who instead are supposed to protect them”, Chege said.
The Nairobi South Ward MCA alleged that the inspectorate team had imposed fear to traders to a point that most of them were fearing to testify in front of the assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee.
“There is a lot victimisation going on. Most traders cannot appear before this committee as they fear of consequences that may follow them after they bring into limelight what happens in these streets”, she said.
It also emerged that the inspectorate has been working in cohorts to frustrate anyone who was not willing to part with Ksh100 as a bribe.
“I’m telling NMS Director General Lieutenant General Mohammed Badi to intervene and sort this issue. We are sending away traders from Nairobi to other towns because of this harassment”, Parklands MCA Jayendra Malde said.
But appearing on behalf of the inspectorate team Assistant Director in charge of the enforcement team John Magere said most traders are actually to blame for trading in areas where they are not designated.
“In as much as we are to blame, it should be clear that most of these hawkers do their businesses against the law. Most of these incidents you see come after confrontation between traders and our officers” said Magere.
The city inspectorate officers are charged with maintaining law and order by enforcing Nairobi City by-laws, however, they have been known for their brutality, ruthlessness and extortion rather than enforcement.
In order to reform the infamous askaris, NMS has partnered with the National Police Service to train at least 1,000 of the officers with modern skills in a bid to transform the sector into a service and not only an enforcement unit.
Part of the training includes inducting discipline and professionalism to the city-county personnel popularly known as kanjos to transform them from the brutal and inhuman face to a friendly enforcement service.