Nairobi Youth Night Market is coming but, have you visited Nairobi Bus Station of late? The famous bus station that used to belong to now defunct and somehow resurrected Kenya Bus Services? It’s a garbage ground. That garbage stinks. Both the walking paths and the parking lots have been taken up by the hawkers. They hawk foodstuffs – onions, tomatos, potatos, bananas, apples, and clothes. They hawk shoes and 50 bob ladies marchandise.
By the sides are food dens, filthy food dens that scream cheap food borne diseases. Ready to grab you are dirty or rather sweaty hands stationed to force commuters to become den customers. Nairobi Bus Station maybe already worse than Muthurua.
At night the chaos at Nairobi Bus Station extends to Mfangano Street, enters part of Ronald Ngala towards Moi Avenue but branches to cover the whole of Tom Mboya. At night you are more likely to step on a hawker’s ware than set your feet on a walking path. The verandas of Tom Mboya are no go zones at night thanks to the ineptitude or fear of Nairobi County Government.
On a few occasions you’d see these hawkers run helter skelter (is that the correct way to use the phrase?) when City Council askaris attempt to show their faces, but in less than five minutes the’d be back with their wares and chaos and left over garbage. And that’s before you add the madness of the matatus that have turned Tom Mboya Street into a palace.
Nairobi Bus Station that is supposed to be built to the standards of an International Airport if (I may draw comparison with what I saw in South Africa) together with Mfangano Street, Ronald Ngala Street, River Road, Tom Mboya Street and Moi Avenue have enabled Nairobi to become partly a 24 hour economy; an economy that at night is chaotic, at times barbaric, and outright filthy. Abhorable.
This 24 hour economy is officially being extended to the heart of CBD thanks to an initiative by Nairobi County Government and The Youth Agenda called Nairobi Youth Night Market. The Nairobi Youth Night Market is intended to be an open and free market that will turn Kaunda Street and City Hall Way into market streets that will be accessed at least once a month. The first market days will be during this Easter holidays starting from Good Friday on March 25, 2016 to Sunday March 27, 2016. Market hours will be 4pm to midnight.
The streets beyond Moi Avenue towards Uhuru Highway and extending from Haile Selasie Avenue all the way to University Way have been considered the heart of the city which are no go zones for hawkers and other informal businesses. These streets have retained the decency of a capital city, housing some of the most decent restaurants, prestigious electronic shops, high end boutiques, top of the world government and private offices, and are where emblems of Nairobi like the City Hall and the KICC are found. They are streets that according to me, should be safeguarded against all manner of garbage, filth and stink.
I am not saying that the idea of an open market like Nairobi Youth Night Market for the youth to sell their merchandise is a bad idea, what I am worried about is the amount of garbage that will be left in Kaunda Streets and City Hall Way after every night market session. At the time the sessions are done once a month, this might not be a problem, but as I am fully aware, the inability of City Government to control hawkers in the supposed to be prestigious bus station and adjacent streets clearly indicate that the same Government will not be able to control an upsurge of hawkers in the streets that define the heart of CBD, more so now that the Nairobi Youth Night Market is being launched just a few months before the 2017 general elections.