Transport on the busy Nairobi-Naivasha highway was Monday paralysed for hours after a group of demonstrators deflated tyres of more than 100 vehicles, in a protest to push for the arrest of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu over her crackdown on charcoal trade.
The transporters from Limuru in Kiambu County have accused the governor of inciting her supporters to burn a lorry found ferrying charcoal in Kitui early this month.
The lorry reportedly belonged to one of the transporters.
The protest started at around 7 am and affected motorists using the Ruaka-Limuru road, the main highway and the Mai-Mahiu road.
In some vehicles, the youths deflated all the tyres, while in long distance trucks, only the two front wheels were drained of pressure. The move caught the motorists unawares and caused a snarl-up on the busy highway and its feeder roads.
A motorist, Mr Joseph Maina, was left stranded at Rironi for hours starting at 8am when the demonstrators, chanting anti-Ngilu slogans, descended on his car, and deflated all the tyres.
“I had an appointment in Naivasha at around 10am and so I left Nairobi shortly before 7am, only for me to encounter a traffic jam here (Rironi). Before I could gather what was happening, a group of rowdy youth confronted me and without talking to me, they deflated all my vehicle tyres and now I can’t move,” Mr Maina said.
The demonstrators said they were angered by the burning of a truck belonging to David Kariuki at Kanyonyoo area in Kitui on February 8, allegedly under the instructions of Ms Ngilu.
This was the fourth time the transporters were staging a protest over the matter, having held similar demos along Thika-Garrissa road and at Limuru two weeks ago, where they were joined by Deputy Governor James Nyoro and area MP Peter Mwathi.
They later presented a memorandum to Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who promised to take up the matter.
The transporters want Ms Ngilu arrested and prosecuted for malicious damage to property and incitement.
She also compensate the transporter for the lorry and charcoal, they say.
Governor Ngilu Monday appeared before the National Cohesion and Integration Commission following summons over the matter.
She was accompanied by National Super Alliance co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka.
A source told the Nation that Kwa-Mbira, the venue of the fracas in Limuru, “is the biggest unofficial charcoal exchange centre in Kenya”.
“The interests catered for here straddle the entire network of interests, geography and cartels involving producers, merchants, carbon pimps, transporters, distributors, hitmen… name them!” the source said.