Over 100 workers contracted by Redis Civicon at Base Titanium mining company in Kwale yesterday held a peaceful demonstration before they were dispersed by security officers at Zerozero area in Msambweni.
The security officers drawn from General Service Unit and regular police, all in full riot gear, arrived shortly after the workers, who were heading to their place of work, started demonstrating.
The workers were protesting what they termed as breach of agreement by Base Titanium company. They accused the company of employing non-locals on casual labour.
Base Titanium has stood its grounds that they employ outsiders in case the professionals needed are not available in the area.
Some of the workers ran away for fear of being attacked by the armed officers while others were arrested and escorted to Jomo Kenyatta primary school where they were allowed to address journalists.
The protest raised tension in the area forcing boda boda operators, mostly used to ferry Base Titanium workers, to flee for their safety.
Led by their spokesman Ali Mwamkazi, the workers, mosty from Kinondo and Msambweni areas, said their contract with Redis contractors at the miming site expires August 31, next week.
He said that they have seen outsiders being ferried to work at the mining site while thousands of unemployed youths who can perform the same job remain idle.
"Thousands of youths have not yet been employed since the company started its work here. Why can't they employ them instead of getting other people outside the county"? asked Mwamkazi.
The workers claimed Base Titanium officials under tight security took their work identification cards after the demonstration, meaning they are not allowed to go back to work.
"They have taken away our passes. That means we are fired which is not right. Demonstration is our constitutional right. They used police to victimize us but we will champion on," he added.
Kwale county representative Juma Maone condemned the police saying proper procedures should be followed in case of such issues.
Addressing Boda boda operators and several company officials at Zerozero area, Maone said the workers had a right to demonstrate without interference like any other Kenyan.
"We will not sit back and watch when police are working with some people to harass our constituents because of issues which can be solved," he said.
Msambweni deputy police boss Gifinalis Baraza said his officers were only trying to ensure security of property and lives during the 4am incident. He said no one was harmed.
"The workers have been told to select four of their representatives to attend a meeting which will be attended by Base Titanium officials, provincial administration and police to see how best their issues can be solved," he told the Star on phone.