Kenya: Mombasa Protesters Against SGR Cargo Order Set Free

8 October 2019

Police have set free demonstrators who were arrested during a protest against the monopoly use of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The 13 protesters, who included truck drivers and human rights activist, were freed on Monday evening unconditionally.

They were however required to report back to the Nyali Police Station where they were being detained on Thursday.

'NO CRIME'

"We have been asked to go back on October 10 and report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations office. We will comply because what we know is that we did not commit any crime, but exercising our constitutional rights," said Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) rapid response officer Francis Auma, who was among those arrested.

Other activists who were also arrested include Haki Africa's executive director Hussein Khalid, his rapid response officer Mathias Shippeta and another official identified as Michael.

Truck drivers and officials from another lobby group, Fast Action Movement were also arrested and released.

Their release was welcomed with excitement by their supporters, who had camped outside the police station.

The Nation, established that charges were drafted against the protesters, despite their release.

According to the charges, the protesters are accused of violating Section 83 of the Penal Code which prohibits rioting after proclamation by police.

Nyali police bossSimon Thirikwa termed the demo as "illegal" as the proclamation was made to the demonstrators who opted to defy it.

"It is an offence to ignore the proclamation. We are still going to deal with them. They conducted an illegality," said Mr Thirikwa.

The activists and the transporters took to the streets to push the government to effect an order it had suspended on the use of SGR as the only means of transport of cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi.

They staged their demo at the Nyali Bridge along the Malindi-Mombasa Highway after the transporters had claimed that they had been denied access at the Mombasa port to carry and nominate the cargo.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) general manager Captain William Ruto however dismissed the claims saying the trucks had been allowed in the port as agreed by the government.

On Thursday last week, leaders from Mombasa led by Governor Hassan Joho met with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, his Transport counterpart James Macharia and other port stakeholders where it was agreed that the order to give SGR monopoly of transportation of cargo be suspended.

On Monday, Mr Macharia insisted that business had been opened for everybody as per agreement with the port stakeholders.

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