, MACHAKOS, Kenya, Jan 17 – Police were Tuesday morning forced to lobby teargas canisters to disperse demonstrators at Mlolongo in Machakos County.
The locals in their hundreds had barricaded the busy Nairobi-Mombasa Highway at the town causing a heavy traffic snarl up.
They were protesting against unfunctional fire engines in Mavoko Sub-County after fire guttered down residential houses and business premises in the town a few metres from Peter Mullei Supermarket within the town.
Fire engines from the Nairobi County Government responded to the incident and prevented the fire from spreading to other structures.
The Machakos County Government’s fire engine stationed at Mavoko Sub-County headquarters is stationary due to flat tyres.
The angry residents engaged police in running battles before security agencies managed to unblock the road.
The incident that paralyzed transport and businesses in shops along the highway lasted for close to 30 minutes.
Traders closed shops and other business premises as the protesters confronted the police.
Mlolongo MCA Daniel Mbevi criticized the Machakos Government for failing to put their fire engines in order.
Mbevi said the victims would have not lost their property worth millions of shillings if the Mavoko fire engine was operational.
“We have a fire engine with flat tires, no fuel, no water. Someone is sleeping on the job,” Mbevi said.
Athi River Deputy County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said the locals should raise their complaints with leadership of the Machakos Government instead of blocking the highway.
“We cannot entertain this, this is a national highway and not Machakos County property,” said Omoding.
Omoding said police had restored order and they were hunting down those who incited the residents to block the road.
Omoding said those demonstrating on Mombasa Road will be treated as economic saboteurs.
“Residents should desist from demonstrating on Mombasa Road to avoid wastage of time as a result of traffic jam. There are sick people using the road who can lose lives during the process,” he added.