Unemployed Graduates Join Lucrative Mkokoteni Business In Nairobi

Hundreds of young people are being forced to work as handcart pullers on the streets of Nairobi as they strive to make ends meet.

Unlike other jobs, where experience is valued while applying for jobs, all that is required to run a handcart is a thorough comprehension of the Nairobi county by-laws that govern handcart operators, some decent muscles, and a strong desire to work.

Nairobi has roughly 2,608 trolleys and 371 carts, according to Peter Njoroge, the current chairman of Mkokoteni and Trolley Association.

“Some of these are regularly rented out to other people in the city center,” Peter told Wananchi Reporting.

Hundreds of young people use handcarts and trolleys, paying between Sh70 and Sh100 per trip to the owners.

Some of the handcart and trolley pushers, according to the chairman, are graduates and well-educated members of society.

Njoroge claims that most people who use handcarts couldn’t afford their own, but that those who have loyal clients can earn up to Sh1000 on a good day. This suggests that a person can live comfortably on between Ksh 25,000 and Ksh 30,000 per month.

Some of the handcart pushers have acquired the trust of their customers, who call them on the phone to have their luggage picked up and dropped off at various locations – without them (the owners) physically being present.

Despite the good money, the operators have had to abide by very rigorous by-laws.

There are some sites where cart and trolley pullers are not permitted.

Existing ordinances, according to Njoroge, make it illegal for handcarts to travel past Moi Avenue. Then there are the regions where they are not permitted to enter after 11 a.m.

“The County enacted rules to bring order to the town because matatus from the upcountry arrive at regulated points, yet some individuals want their luggage transported from the Tea Room to the Railway Station.” explined Njoroge

Although hand carts serve an important part in ensuring the circulation of products and providing jobs, Nairobi Traffic Chief Joshua Omukata recently stated that the architecture of main highways within Nairobi is not conducive.

He explained that while handcarts are non-motorized, they are not permitted in some areas of the city due to their slow movement, which causes traffic congestion.

Gikomba, Wakulima Market, and Marikiti all have open-air marketplaces with handcarts and trolleys.

They’ll be parked in certain spots along Racecourse Road in the evening, making orderly rows like cars clocking hours in a parking lot.

What do you think?

Written by Esther Oyugi

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