City residents were on Wednesday unable to access certain public toilets within the Central Business District after armed police officers were deployed to prevent rowdy youth from accessing the facilities.
The officers locked down the toilets in Muthurwa, OTC and Machakos Country Bus station as the struggle over their operation played out once again.
Public Toilets Operators Association of Kenya chairman Tom Makale said that the police officers were enforcing an existing court order to wrestle the control of the toilets from youths who allegedly invaded the facilities sometimes in March.
“There is a court order which is not being respected. It was to be enforced and the police and the county are involved. The police came to execute the order but they could not do it because the county inspectorate was not ready to lead them,” said Mr Makale on Wednesday.
In March, it was reported that some youth groups had taken over the running of the facilities, a move that forced the operators of the public toilets to move to court.
“Those who invaded the toilets came with the powers that be urging them on. It became hard for me to lead the police but I am urging the existing court order to be respected,” he said.
The operators were granted an order by a High Court directing the police to ensure criminal gangs vacated the facilities and revert full control of the amenities to operators of the toilets identified as Alika designs and cleaning services limited, Twenty Four Seven Ventures limited, Marafiki Sacco society limited, Chege Mwangi, Joseph Karanja and George Kariuki.
The Court ordered OCPD Central Police station to provide back-up and effect the order by preventing criminal gangs from taking over the premises pending hearing and determination of the suit.
There has been a back and forth in the city over the operation of the toilets since Governor Mike Sonko, two weeks ago, threatened to take and hand over the management and operations of the toilets to City Hall if the private firms failed to sort out constant infighting.
The early morning drama created confusion with many taking to social media speculating that it must have been the county government effecting their earlier threat.
But County Environment Executive Larry Wambua distanced the county from the incident, saying that they were not involved.
“We were not directly involved in the wrangles as the conflict was between the operators and youth groups and the police were simply doing their job,” said Mr Wambua.