22 January 2014

Kenya: Leaders Differ Over Strike Call

Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN
A trader at a market (file photo).

A section of Kongowea market leaders have fallen out with their counterparts who have called for a strike over the increased levies by the county government.

Kongowea Market Central Committee chair Ali Mtsumi said the call for a strike is wrong, immature and inconsiderate. "Why call for a strike or closure of the market yet we have not exhausted all the channels," Mtsumi said.

Yesterday, the committee secretary general Peter Nyaga was arrested by council officers for inciting traders.

The faction supporting the strike, led by former secretary general Richard Onyango, accused Mtsumi and former Kongowea councillor Junior Chaka of being behind the arrest.

"We are surprised that Nyaga was picked from the market this morning by county askaris. This is unfair because it is intimidation," said Paul Ngei, a trader who is Onyango and Nyaga's ally.

However, Mtsumi and Chaka denied any involvement in Nyaga's arrest. They said Nyaga is a fellow businessman and is only fighting to ensure high levies in the market are reduced.

"Why would I orchestrate the arrest of a colleague yet we both want the same thing?" Mtusmi said.

"The 400 per cent increment is truly there but there are products like cereals that have not been increased by that amount. Why should they suffer by closing the market? Let us deal with those products that have exorbitant increment alone," said Mtsumi.

He said they will be meeting with Trade executive Mohamed Abdi on Thursday to discuss further the increment. Chaka said he is a mere businessman in the market and has nothing to do with the political fights in the market.

Nyaga was yesterday arraigned in Municipal Court but was not charged. He was to be charged in the afternoon but that had not happened by the time of going to press.

His supporters camped at the court premises.

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