Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views • Issue no. 18 April-May 2003

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Disabled Hawkers in Nairobi Protest Government Crackdown
By Kay Schriner (kays@uark.edu)

People with disabilities have been hawking their wares in the center of Nairobi for a long time, but Mayor Joe Aketch wants to end all that. He has banned all hawkers from the city center and in a move that infuriated disability activists, sent the City Council guards to break up a demonstration of disabled hawkers who had gone to State House Road to seek a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki.

Kenya's health minister, Charity Ngilu, criticized the actions of the guards, saying "I was unhappy to see how the hawkers were bundled into vehicles like criminals. A spokesman for the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) called for criminal proceedings against individual guards who mistreated the individuals with disabilities. NCEC also demanded the resignation of Mayor Aketch.

For his part, Mayor Aketch blamed the "nasty" incident on political instigators who wanted to undermine the city's authority. He said "The hawkers did not have to go to State House to see President Kibaki to solve their alleged problems. We have a machinery at City Hall which can tackle all problems directed to my office."

He also said that the city center hawkers would instead be allocated space east of the city center. He says that all hawkers will be allocated space in the new area equally.

A few days after these incidents, the national government began considering the inclusion of a disability employment quota in the Persons with Disability Bill, which is being reintroduced in the Parliament this year. The quota would require that some percentage, perhaps 2-3%, of employees have disabilities. Home Affairs minister Moody Awori is heading up the effort to include the quota, saying that it is the only way to eliminate hiring discrimination against people with disabilities.

Awori also said the bill would mandate that local authorities give priority to individuals with disabilities when issuing hawking licenses.

Information for this story taken from AllAfrica.com.

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