Man shot dead in Matatu strike
Story by FRED MUKINDA and DANIEL WESANGULA
Publication Date: 6/4/2008
A man was shot dead by police in chaos that erupted after some matatu operators in Nairobi’s Eastlands area went on strike Tuesday.
Mr Edward Mugo shows damages caused to a bus belonging to the Citi Hopper company after matatu operators went on strike demanding to be given access to the city centre. Photos/PETERSON GITHAIGA
Witnesses say the victim was among a gang of youth armed with stones and machetes, who had been attacking drivers and conductors who did not support the strike.
He was shot at Mbotela on Jogoo Road at around 1pm.
Buruburu police commander Rop Kipkemboi said the victim had thrown a stone that smashed the window of a bus belonging to the Citi Hoppa company.
“The man was also holding a panga, suggesting that he had bad intentions,” Mr Kipkemboi told the Nation.
Mr Edward Mugo, the driver of the Citi Hoppa bus that operates between Pipeline and the city centre, said that he thought he was stopping to pick up a genuine passenger when other youths emerged with stones.
“As we approached the stage at Mbotela, one man stopped the bus like any other passenger. As soon as I stopped, two other men appeared carrying stones and started throwing them at the bus. The man who had stopped the bus also threw stones at the bus,” he said.
Public transport was paralysed in parts of Nairobi’s Eastlands area as matatu operators boycotted duty to protest a directive barring them from accessing the city centre.
As such many commuters plying Eastlands routes were forced to walk for long distances.
Initially, operators plying route 23 on Outer Ring Road had issued notice of the strike on Monday and warned that they would stone colleagues who would not support them.
Consequently, operators on Buruburu’s route 58 as well as others plying the Embakasi, Pipeline and Kayole routes followed suit. The operators also accused police of applying the law selectively, saying buses belonging to the Double M Services were being allowed to pick and drop passengers inside the Central Business District.
But on Tuesday, the Double M Services buses that attempted to enter the CBD were diverted to Muthurwa market.
Matatus from Eastlands were barred from entering the city centre by then Local Government minister Uhuru Kenyatta as a way of decongesting the city. All public vehicles plying the routes are required to pick and drop passengers at the Muthurwa market.
On Tuesday, most matatus were withdrawn from the roads from as early as 6am. Workers and school children were stranded at termini along Jogoo Road and had to struggle to get a space in the few available matatus.
Residents in Majengo, Maringo, Makadara, Jericho and Makongeni were also affected by the strike since only a few matatus operated in the areas.
By early afternoon, normal matatu service had resumed along the route and the body of the man who was gunned down was still lying along the road.