Police in Migori town have been forced to fire in the air to disperse a group of angry bodaboda riders who were confronting taxi drivers as the two groups fought over parking space.
Tension between the two groups has been simmering for three months after the county government moved to decongest the town which has seen parking lots re-organised.
In a bid to increase revenue collection and boost access to the town, taxi drivers and boda boda riders were moved from the busy Kisii-Migori-Isebania highway, which is undergoing expansion, to the town's bus park.
On Wednesday evening, there was tension as taxi drivers at the bus park assaulted a bodaboda rider who had parked his motorcycle at their stage.
In retaliation, bodaboda riders across the town marshalled their numbers and started assaulting taxi riders forcing them to hide their cars.
“When the town was re-organised, enough plans were not put in place to accommodate all the bodaboda riders and taxi drivers. The changes have occasioned some inconveniences leading to the tension,” Mr Samuel Migore, chairman of Migori Small Traders Association said.
Angry bodaboda riders moved within Migori town looking for taxi drivers who had assaulted their colleague.
The cat and mouse chase ended at one of the taxi drivers' home in Nyabisawa village, 10 kilometres from Migori town.
RIDERS INVADE HOME
Nyabisawa Chief Bernard Alila said the riders planned to invade the home of Mzee Okero, whose son is taxi driver, and wanted to burn down his house and granaries.
“[News of] the tension in town reached us and we managed to get police officers who arrived at the homestead just as bodaboda riders were assaulting family members,” Chief Alila said.
The confrontation forced police officers to fire in the air and throw teargas in a bid to disperse the riders.
“They didn’t find the man they were looking for but it is sad that they wanted his innocent family to pay for his sins,” Mr Alila said.
The fracas forced police and county government officials to hold a meeting of officials from the two warring groups in order to bring peace in the town.
“Even though we are fined Sh2,000 when accessing undesignated regions at taxi stages where we used to park, it is the drivers and not county officials who assault us and collect the fines,” Albert Otieno, a leader of the boda boda riders said.
Mr Alila said they have managed to talk with the groups to “help them solve their problems through dialogue or move to relevant authorities instead of resorting to arson and assault”.
Daudi Obado, the county Trade director, said the designation of stages involves several departments in and already there is a meeting to end the impasse.
“I am not in a position to give a way forward, but other departments too, like Planning and Roads, will work for an amicable solution,” Obado said.