10 hurt as police disperse Kirinyaga health workers demo

Wednesday June 26 2019

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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At least 10 people have been injured as riot police broke up a demonstration by the striking Kirinyaga health workers in Kutus town.

They suffered head, hand and leg injuries and were rushed to various private hospitals for treatment.

Central Region Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary Gor Goody was among those who were injured during the Wednesday incident which disrupted business in the usually busy town.

Chaos erupted when riot police intercepted the workers as they proceeded to the county headquarters to seek audience with Governor Anne Waiguru over what they termed as poor working conditions.

DEMO ILLEGAL

The police declared the demonstration illegal and told the workers to disperse but they defied the order, insisting that they had a right to assemble and even picket.

It was then that the officers lobbed tear gas canisters on the demonstrators, sending them scampering for safety.

The workers were injured after falling on rocks and on the tarmac as they fled from the charging anti-riot police officers.

Some of the workers claimed they suffered injuries when they were clobbered and kicked by the officers who were forcibly dispersing them.

"Several workers including myself were injured when they were attacked by the officers and we must sue the attackers,” said Dr Goody.

RIGHTS INFRINGED

The KMPDU official accused the police of infringing on the rights of the workers and insisted that they must face the law.

"The workers were conducting a peaceful demonstration which is allowed by the Constitution but the officers attacked them. The officers involved in beating up the workers must be sued," said Dr Goody.

Dr Goody said no amount of intimidation and harassment by the police and the county government will deter them from fighting for their rights.

"The workers will continue piling pressure on Governor Anne Waiguru until their demands are met,” said Dr Goody.

A clinical officer, Mr Paul Mwangi, was injured on his leg during the confrontation with the police.

KICKED

"One of the officers kicked me as I took off and I went sprawling down. I'm now nursing my wounds," said Mr Mwangi, who is the local chairman of the Kirinyaga Kenya Nation Union of Clinical Officers.

Another worker, Regina Wambui, also complained of severe back and chest pains on and demanded that legal action be taken against the officers.

"I was beaten by the officers yet I had committed no offence. This is unacceptable," she said.

Efforts to get comments from the County Police Commander Leah Kithei were unsuccessful as calls to her phone went unanswered.

The workers have been on strike for nearly one month now protesting against the pathetic state of the Kerugoya Referral Hospital and other health facilities in the county.

The workers have claimed that four of their colleagues have even contracted Hepatitis B and diarrhoea for working in unhygienic conditions.

They have also accused the county of failing to promote them, among other grievances.