NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – Transport on Magadi Road was paralysed Thursday after Multimedia University students and boda boda riders fought after a motorcycle was burnt down and another destroyed in ongoing protests over road safety.
The day-long protest over reckless drivers along the route was peaceful until the riders insisted that they wanted to resume their business against the wish of the students, who had barricaded a section of the road near the institution.
“How are we going to pay our rent if this is the trend?” Peter Mbugua, a motorcyclist in the area asked, shortly before a violent altercation between the two groups resulted in stone throwing.
Several riders were injured after they were empowered by the hundreds of students and were eventually forced to flee.
The boda boda riders blocked the road from Rongai, while the students manned a five-kilometre stretch as stranded motorists watched in disbelief on the other side.
Motorists who have been stranded for hours since morning called on government to address their grievances to avoid such a scenario along the busy road, the second this week.
“This is a public road and we must use it. You can see that no one is going to work,” a motorist who did not want to be mentioned told Capital FM News.
“It doesn’t matter whether police use maximum force or not, but they must contain this madness. The students despite having genuine concerns do not have a right to barricade the road.”
A spot check by Capital FM News revealed that most motorists remained stuck hoping the matter would be resolved while others were caught unawares and had to use alternative routes.
The day started with a peaceful walk-to-work protest by members of the Ongata Rongai Residents Association that ended at Langata Police Station, the scene of Sunday’s accident that claimed four lives and left eight others seriously injured.
In all the routes they used, motorists were forced to move at the pace of the protestors who took time off to relax, pray, moments of silence and even chants against what has become a menace on Magadi Road.
“We want them (the rest of the public) to feel our pain,” Anne Wambui said.
Unlike the MMU protest, anti-riot police followed the morning procession at a distance, to ensure law and order was maintained.
The protest ended without an incident but the tables were swiftly turned by that of the students that paralysed transport.
Sunday’s accident provoked anger that has been simmering for a while leading to the series of protests, that are far from over, according to the MMU student leadership.
It gained momentum after University of Nairobi student leader Babu Owino endorsed their protest and urged them, “to do it every day until the government wakes up from slumber.”
“Loss of one comrade is loss of a great future of the country,” he said.
Langata sub-County Deputy Commissioner Phillip Lemalasia says police in the area have issued a seven-day notice to the owner of the vehicle to produce the person who was driving on the fateful day for possible prosecution.
“Transport companies are still trying to play hide and seek with the government. We will continuously enforce traffic law until they reform,” he cautioned.