The New Stuff

Lifestyle Wed 09 Oct 2019

Danger Of Food Kiosks

Greedy Killer Hawkers Trading with City Residents Lives

Way food trading has been and is a solution to major social and economic problems through the provision of ready-made meals at relatively inexpensive prices. It has offered employment by teeming up rural and urban populace along its value chain but due to the informal nature of the enterprise, the activities of the practitioners are not overseen. This gives ample room for objectionable practices. The results are the risks such activities pose to the health and safety of specialists along the value chain.

To slum dwellers, it is not a rare sight to see masses of people scramble for smoked fish with amixture of meat and other roadside food. You can easily get stranded as you wait to be attended to and sometimes, smiling to the waitress doesn’t yield any fast platter.

Another team of casually dressed male counterparts storm the place asking for the roasted meat which in most cases is partially cooked and before being placed on fire,it is not thoroughly washed. Incidents of meat being preserved by formalin and sodium met bisulphite has been on the rise posing a danger for those allergic to sulphur. This gives them skin upsurges and in turn sends them into anaphylactic shock.

Nearby, a middle aged woman fries chopped potatoes on an open fire, they being on high demand, I decide to follow suit in queuing so that I can get a taste of the “viazi karai”as they are usually known.The ready ones are served with “ukwaju” making it a wonderful meal not worrying of the sweat by the servers or the smell of smoke one will be covered with after the long lines.

At her ‘kibanda” which is adjacentto  the open fire are vegetables and abnormally ripe fruits which from the guise seem to be ripened using calcium Carbicide.Beneath the kibanda are kales and spinach planted in sacks and alongside are dirty streams of water. Should a fruit or vegetable roll away from the pile into the water, it is picked up and put right back with no thought whatsoever to what contaminants might have been introduced to the rest of the produce.

A middle aged man storms in the kiosk hanging an umbrella above his head, whistling to one of his best tunes, it’s raining heavily and the manouever to move towards the shade becomes hectic. Drip! Drip! Goes the raindrops from the sootiron sheetroof withuninsulated electricity cables hanging precariously in their kiosks? The vendors know the dangers, but they have little choice. They are not part of the national power grid and might never have a legal connection. The mixture of soot washed by the raindrops find its way into the large sufuria of beans. Behind me Security guards shout“Chapati madondo”. They are happily served and they seem to enjoy their meal.

A few metres apart we come across a water-vending kiosk which stands beside two dirty, poorly constructed pit latrines. The water they use in the food kioskscomes from the slurry that is the Nairobi River a murky grey, so full of sewage that its repugnant smell of human excrement hits you before seeing the actual river. That smell hangs from what appears to be a dumping point for sewer exhauster trucks.

The crisis of poor infrastructure, overcrowding, few resources and poor sanitation facilities is exacerbated further by a high disease and morbidity burden, characterized by high levels of malnutrition among children and the aged, high rate of communicable diseases like typhoid, malaria, dysentery and tuberculosis, with most families being unable to afford medical care. 

Greedy vendors and hawkers have been in the forefront endangering consumers’ lives without caring about the health hazards they pose to them. Police officers and the relevant authorities have cracked the whip on those conducting those businesses illegally but to no avail.

Food safety is a shared responsibility and Kenya operates without a comprehensive food and safety nutrition policy, a document that has been presented in parliament without being able to realise its Importance and need. Who then is to blame?

street food


A passive writer who loves God and life. .