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Matatu operators run amok in Kibera

Matatu operators in Kibera on Friday held a demonstration protesting harassment by the police.

They accused the local administration police of arresting them unfairly and charging them for touting.

The protestors lit bonfires and barricaded three sections of the road in Olympic, Makina and near the administration offices.

Led by the Matatu Workers Association (MWA) Secretary General Brian Shem, the workers demanded for the release of their colleagues who were arrested on Thursday.

“This week 18 of us have been arrested while working in different stages and taken to the court in the name of touting, when you fine a matatu worker Sh 20,000 where do you expect them to earn a living?” posed Mr Owino.

Mr Owino added that police have been harassing workers who have complied with the traffic regulations and are licensed then claiming to have found them guilty of touting.

“Instead of harassing us and claiming that our business harbours criminals, why do not they crackdown on armed robbers who are harassing residents and those taking illicit brew in chang’aa dens?” added Ahmed Ramadhan, the association’s chairman.

Commuters who were in buses plying the route were forced to alight at the administration offices as the protesters were diverting all motorists.

Police later engaged the protesters with teargas and put off the bonfires to allow motorists to use the road.

Kibera Administration Police Commandant Grace Mbinda called on the matatu operators to allow for deliberations between their leaders and the police.

After a one-hour meeting with the police, the MWA officials stated they had reached an agreement with the police.

“The police were acting upon reports of there being some of us who are engaged in criminal activities and since we have agreed to help secure the area by reporting any criminal elements we shall continue working in peace,” said Ali Hussein, another MWA official.

Superintendent Mbinda urged the workers to restore sanity in the roads around Kibera and not to allow criminals to endanger the lives of residents.

“Our role as police is to protect Kenyans and when any groups be it matatu workers or criminals endanger their lives we have to ensure peace,” she added.

Those who were arrested and charged for touting are being held at Industrial area and Jamuhuri prisons after they failed to raise a bond of Sh 15,000 each.