Most workers defy Raila call for job boycott

Monday August 14 2017

Nasa leader Raila Odinga addresses his supporters in Mathare, Nairobi, where he had gone to console the family of a 10-year-old girl who was shot dead by a stray police bullet. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nasa leader Raila Odinga addresses his supporters in Mathare, Nairobi, where he had gone to console the family of a 10-year-old girl who was shot dead by a stray police bullet. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The majority of workers across the country on Monday refused to heed ODM leader Raila Odinga’s call to boycott work.

In Nairobi, most of the government offices were open and residents flocked to the city to continue conducting their business.

Shops and stalls were also open.

Matatus were back on the roads in large numbers, as Kenyans waited for Mr Odinga’s statement on his next step after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared Mr Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential race.

Calmness and normalcy returned to major towns such as Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa and Nyeri, a spot check by the Nation showed.

On Sunday, Mr Odinga, who was coming out for the first time after the announcement of the final presidential election results, called for a work boycott as he promised to make a major statement Tuesday.

“Tomorrow (Monday), there is no going to work. Wait until Tuesday, when I will give directions,” he said in Kibera.

He also condemned what he termed police brutality and killings in Kibera and Mathare, saying National Super Alliance leaders had been aware of plans to do so before the election.

“They have stolen our votes and they still come to kill our people. What happened in Kibera, Mathare and other places we foresaw three weeks ago.

"I want to tell Jubilee that they shed the blood of innocent people and they will have to pay for the blood,” he warned.

On Monday, Kisumu was nearly back to normal as transport and business resumed, with traders going on with their usual activities.

Banks, supermarkets and other shops were open.

Activities had been disrupted in the lakeside town after violence broke out following the announcement of the final presidential results, leading to loss of lives and damage to property.

Some residents, among them infants, were injured during the chaos.

Transport flowed smoothly, with boda boda riders ferrying people to and from the town.

This was equally true of matatus and buses, which were at the main terminus, picking up passengers and ferrying them to various destinations.

Most traders said they could not stay at home because they had nothing to eat due to lack of money.

“We have been running up and down because of the demos and there is no money we have made.

"We cannot continue being at home yet we have children to feed. That is why I opened business today,” Mr David Ochieng, a second-hand clothes seller at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground, said.

He and other traders however raised fears over their fate as Mr Odinga’s next course of action looms.

“We don’t know what announcement will be made on Tuesday because it could affect us directly,” Ms Esther Aketch, a small-scale trader at the Jubilee Market, said.

In a bid to ensure calm, the County Security and Intelligence Committee on Monday met incoming Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Kisumu Central MP-elect Fred Ouda and some members of the county assembly, and resolved that the people should open their businesses.

“Those who want to deliver their produce and offer services should do so because all the roads have been secured and boulders removed to ease the transportation of goods and travel,” Kisumu County Commissioner Mohammed Maalim said.

Mr Maalim and the county leadership sounded a warning to criminals who are taking advantage of the situation to terrorise residents.

The county commissioner said he had been saddened by the sight of helpless women selling their vegetables outside a police station at Ahero in the past few days for fear of their safety, adding that it was a relief that normalcy had returned to the county.

“How many people can we accommodate at the police stations to carry out their business?

"We have secured the city to ensure no criminal disturb the prevailing calm in the town,” Mr Maalim said.

A spot check by the Nation in Siaya revealed minimal activities at national government offices while there was total closure of county government offices.

An employee at the Social Protection Services Department that falls under the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection said: “We are working as usual as we have not received any circular instructing us that today is a holiday.”

She said they had however received a low number of people requiring their attention compared to normal days, when they serve many Siaya residents.

However, all key county government offices — including those of Finance, Agriculture and the governor’s in Siaya and Bondo Town — remained closed in a manner suggesting that the officials had obeyed Mr Odinga’s directive.

An employee of the county government who sought anonymity said: “We have not reported today because of Raila’s directive.”

In Nyamira, county government secretary Eric Onchana said service to the public is essential and boycotting work would lead to unnecessary suffering of those seeking them.

“We are offering services as usual since we don’t want our people to suffer,” he said.

He added that normal life must continue as Nasa leaders protest over alleged rigging of the presidential election.

Nyamira residents re-elected Mr John Nyagarama of ODM as governor and Mr Erick Omogeni of the same party as senator.

In Nakuru, residents reported at their workstations while business went on as usual.

A spot check in various workplaces within Nakuru, Naivasha and Molo towns showed that residents were engaged in their daily activities.

Most business people reported to their premises as usual, with some opening as early as 6am.

Matatus and buses were available for both town and long-distance travellers, with most crew being optimistic that everything would go back to normal.

Those interviewed by the Nation said they could not afford to boycott work as they made a living from it.

The Youth for Youth Movement called on political leaders to avoid using young people for their selfish gains.

The youth drawn from various parts of Nakuru Country urged their colleagues to shun violence and focus on claiming their positions in the government, instead.

“Most of those reported dead during the protests are the youth and we would like to call on our colleagues to concentrate on seeking employment in the government based on their qualifications rather than going for demonstrations,” the group’s secretary, Ms Zuena Wanjiru, said.

Reported by Faith Nyamai, Rushdie Oudia, Nelcon Odhiambo, Henry Nyarora and Magdalene Wanja