Nairobi traders hold protests as China Square row deepens

Nairobi traders hold protests as China Square row deepens

Nairobi traders protesting in the CBD

Hundreds of small-scale traders held protests in the Nairobi CBD on Tuesday over what they termed as business takeover by Chinese traders.

The irate traders accused China Square, a business owned by Chinese investor Lei Cheng of setting an unhealthy competition for them. 

While marching towards the office of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at Harambee Annex, the traders demanded audience with government officials to hear their lamentations.

They also wanted an address from Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, who was not present at his office.

“They (China Square) have brought their goods here and opened a mall at Thika Road. Instead of selling as we do, they are selling everything. We have been wondering why our businesses are collapsing, customers are going there because it is cheap,” said David Kabutha, a Nairobi trader among the protestors.

Another protestor, Samuel, said that they will also march to Parliament to seek an audience with at least one legislator.

“We have been oppressed. He (Lei Cheng) can’t bring things to Kenya and sell them, he should manufacture and let us sell,” said the electronics dealer.

The protests come amid a standoff between CS Moses Kuria and the China Square management. Kuria accused Lei Cheng of taking over the retail business in Kenya, leaving local traders with no customers.

China Square has since been closed, in what the management says is to give them time to re-strategise and “give a cooling down period.”

Cheng maintains that his business model is friendly to Kenyans, hence the influx of customers at his stores since its opening on January 29. 

His business, he says, was born out of a trip to a local supermarket where he found Kenyans are exploited by businessmen who sell to them basic items at a premium.


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