Claim to Urban Space: A Study of Hawkers (Street Vendors) Within the Central Business District of Nairobi- Kenya
Some of the biggest challenges facing urban centres in Kenya today is how to tackle the issues of unemployment, through the provision of viable areas for self-employment opportunities as well as improving the quality, standard of living and infrastructure. The urban spaces are not designed to empower people or provide vibrant places where opportunities for small entrepreneurs and informal activities (hawkers) can trade and manufacture at viable locations. Most urban centres in Kenya are faced with the challenge of trying to deal with hawkers (street vendors) within their Central Business District (CBD). In most of the cases hawkers have not been allocated space to operate from. Though ignored by planners and harassed by the Local Authority enforcement officers, the hawkers within urban centres, have tended to acquire and control space informally. The situation in the CBD of Nairobi has reached crisis stage. This raises critical questions; who designs cities? What procedures do they go through? What are the empowering agencies and laws? What role do these assign to hawking and street vending activities? The study examined the problems besetting developments that underestimate and ignore the “hawkers” role as a powerful agent in the development process and space utilisation in urban centres, assuming that environments should be designed for those who use them or are affected by them, rather than for those who own them (Jacobs and Appleyland, 1987).
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