Traders from Nairobi’s Dubois Street, Nyamakima, Kamkunji, and Gikomba Market staged a street demonstration on Tuesday morning, February 28, against what they perceive to be a Chinese invasion of the country’s trading system.
In a video that was circulated online, the traders were seen marching towards the Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua’s office while carrying placards and using trumpets and whistles. They blocked Harambee Avenue in front of his office and demanded that he provide protection for their businesses.
This protest comes just after traders were scheduled to meet with the deputy president on 1 March 2023 to discuss the rapid rise of foreign traders, particularly Chinese, in the country.
During an interview with Inooro TV, Anne Nyokabi, Organizing Secretary of the Importers and Small Traders Association, revealed that the meeting will address foreigners’ ‘takeover’ of local markets.
The demonstrations were sparked by the opening of Mr. Lei Cheng’s retail store, China Square located in Unicity along Thika road which sells its goods for 45% less than competing locally owned stores.
Although Mr. Cheng argues that his business is lawful and focused on safe competition, local traders insist that they should be allowed to manage the retail and wholesale ends of the value chain.
“We are here to end the monopoly and have complied with all governmental instructions for opening a business in Kenya. Because Kenyans are aware of our existence and the fact that we do not take advantage of them financially, the individuals who are opposing us feel threatened,” Mr. Cheng said during an interview with Nation.