NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – For the last three days, Kitengela Town within Kajiado County has been a battlefield of police as traders and members of the Maasai community clashed, prompting the deployment of anti-riot police.
The dispute revolves around renovated market stalls out of which the Maasai want 60 percent share for being the ‘original’ residents of the vast county.
The situation escalated on Wednesday night after a local was killed after he chopped off the ear of another person following a confrontation.
To contain the situation, Kajiado County Commissioner Kello Harsama told Capital FM News on Thursday that he had banned all political rallies and meetings in Kitengela.
During the interview, Harsama urged the residents of Kitengela to maintain calm as the County Government strategises how to allocate the market stalls to the rival groups.
“I would like to caution all politicians against holding meetings, political rallies in Kitengela… we want to address the security issues first,” he said.
Though the main issue was the disputed market, he said police were also investigating whether there was politics involved.
To a number of traders who spoke to Capital FM News, the wrangles “have taken a tribal and a political angle.”
One of the traders, Christine Wanjiru, said they were being told “to check the back of our Identity Cards (for their places of origin). We are being asked to go back to our places…I have been here for 15 years now. I’m a Kenyan too,” an agitated Wanjiru said.
The County Government of Kajiado has since closed the market.
Anti-riot police officers were on Thursday morning seen strategically positioned within the town while others were manning the market.
Traders have urged the County Government to speedily solve the issue since majority deal with perishable goods and they solely earn their living from the market.
“We want to resume our work. The stall costs Sh12,000,” a trader said.
Motorbike riders have also been restricted from operating in some areas following Wednesday’s killing.
“We are suffering. We are all Kenyans…why are they accusing us (motorbike riders) of killing that person?” he asked.
Harsama however says there is no cause for alarm and urged the residents to be calm.
“The market has been closed indefinitely until the situation improves. All people will have their share,” he assured.