Kenya: Mombasa Truckers Riot Over SGR Cargo Business

7 October 2019

Chaos rocked Mombasa on Monday morning as police engaged protesters in running battles.

The protesters want the government to allow trucks to transport cargo at the Mombasa port.

The protests took place despite the government announcing that it had suspended an order directing all cargo be transported via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

DENIED ACCESS

Transporters were, however, reportedly denied access to the port of Mombasa to identify the cargo they would wish to transport despite the suspension of the order. During the riots, at least 13 protesters were arrested at the Nyali Bridge. The protesters were bundled into two police vehicles and taken to Nyali Police Station.

Transport was temporarily disrupted as the more than 20 police officers engaged the protesters in running battles on the Mombasa-Malindi highway.

Nyali Sub County Police Commander Simon Thirikwa, who termed the demo as illegal, confirmed the arrests.

"Once you infringe the right of others then you are conducting an illegal demo," Mr Thirikwa told Nation.

Those arrested included truck drivers and activists from different human rights organisations in Mombasa.

ACTIVISTS

The activists included Haki Africa's Executive Director Hussein Khalid, his rapid response officer Mathias Shippeta, Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) rapid response officer Francis Auma and another official identified as Michael.

One of the protest leaders Mr Philip Jagero accused the police of harassing them despite the police being notified of the demos.

"We followed the due process of notifying the police about our demo on October 2, but what they have done to us is a clear indication that the Coastal people are denied the privileges enshrined in the Constitution.

We demand that our colleagues be freed," said Mr Jagero who was accompanied by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir outside Nyali Police Station.

Police however told Nation that the arrested demonstrators will be charged with taking part an unlawful protest.

MONOPOLY

On Thursday, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho met Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, his Transport counterpart James Macharia and other port stakeholders.

After the meeting the order to give SGR monopoly of transportation of cargo be suspended. On Saturday, the transporters termed the move as a "public relation" exercise being played by the government.

They said that despite the order, they were still blocked from accessing the port. They vowed to continue with their protests every Monday.

The protests have been disrupting activities in Mombasa with transport being the most affected on major roads in the county.

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