Nyeri county is experiencing the highest wave of crime ever even as criminal gangs threaten the economy.
Traders are worried that their businesses may be crippled as armed criminals appear to be targeting them.
Those who spoke during a meeting between the security committee and the business community said the massive economic growth the county is enjoying will go to waste unless criminals are dealt with.
The business people and residents have accused the police of laxity in dealing with the gangs. They also claimed some police officers are compromised.
In just three weeks, seven robberies have been reported, where two people have been killed as nine others sustained serious injuries.
And within two weeks, armed criminals attacked six businessmen and killed two. Three others sustained gunshot wounds.
In a recent case, criminals shot businessman Samuel Karanja and his wife Mary Waruguru before snatching Sh500,000 from them in Tumutumu.
On January 15, prominent businessman Peter Mwangi Muriu popularly known as ‘Sung’ and his employee were shot dead barely 500 metres from Kiganjo Police College. Police described the case as an assassination.
In the same week, another businessman and politician Wambugu Nyamu was waylaid by armed men on his way home but escaped unhurt.
During the Wednesday meeting, the businessmen said the crime would hurt the county’s economy if unchecked.
“We are growing economically and at the same time these criminals are devising new tactics. They know there is money which they are after and unless the security personnel perform their duties, business will suffer,” said Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch chairman Joe Macharia.
BUSY COLLECTING BRIBES
“Most officers are busy collecting bribes and forget to do their job,” said local businessman Mr James Muringo.
Local leaders have also accused the police of neglecting the duties. They claim some officers working with criminals.
This is after the managements of factories where coffee has been stolen and firms hired to provide security failed to explain the thieves gained access into the stores and steal coffee.
Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi also accused traffic police of aiding theft of coffee. “It is unfortunate that lorries transporting stolen coffee pass through road blocks and traffic police officers don’t question them,” said Ms Murugi.
Her Mukurwe-ini counterpart Kabando wa Kabando said: “The factories are surrounded by police posts funded by our money yet coffee is stolen under their watch. This is a syndicate.”
However, police defended themselves by accusing the traders and managements of coffee factories of failing to co-operate with them. Some of the managers have been accused of being accomplices.
“People have information but they do not want to forward it to the police,” said county police boss Eunice Kihiko. “Victims of the recent attacks refused to come out and identify suspects who had been arrested.”