Chaos, bonfires, running battles, and tear gas was the order of the day Thursday on Nairobi’s Haile Selassie Avenue during a demonstration by Wakulima Market traders over the arrest of several of their leaders
Trouble is said to have started on Wednesday evening after County askaris stormed Marikiti market and arrested five traders and confiscated their goods. Among them was the traders’ association chairman Cyrus Kaguta.
“The traders were angered by the arrest of their chairman and they proceeded to beat up one of the County officers and it is only then that the officers fled only for police to show up this morning,” a clothes seller at Muthurwa said.
Central Police OCPD, Robinson Thuku said the traders were arrested for violation of City by-laws.
During the Wednesday melee, Starehe MP Charles Njagua, who had gone to seek a peaceful resolution, dislocated his right ankle. He was treated at Karen Hospital and discharged.
Speaking to the Star, Jaguar said that trouble started as county officials moved in on hawkers who had sought refuge at the Marikiti/Wakulima market.
He said a standoff ensued after they arrested a trader at the market after mistaking him for a hawker.
“The county operators had been looking for hawkers who went to hide in the market. Their arrest of the innocent man led to a deadly confrontation,” Jaguar said.
He added that the officers clobbered the person, escalating the row and causing running battles.
Keen not to lose the battle for control of the city and its revenues, the overwhelmed askaris called regular police and the General Service Unit for reinforcement.
“I came to the rescue of the traders and tried to talk to the officers but little did I know that they had called for reinforcement. They threw tear gas canisters, forcing the people to scamper for safety,” the MP said.
“It was during the commotion that there was a stampede.”
The officers and the traders picked up the rumpus on Thursday morning leading to the violent clashes that saw dozens of vehicles smashed and roads entering and leaving the Kamukunji-Muthurwa Roundabout impassable.
At one point, the traders shattered the windows of a bus and removed its tires after it tried to force its way through the protestors who had blocked Landhies road. Others took advantage of the situation to loot.
The traders vowed to continue with the protests until their officials were released.