, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 11 – Some 13 kilometres from the Nairobi Central Business District, lies Roysambu, located off the Thika superhighway.
Other than hosting an international university, it is a land of all nationalities ranging from students to businessmen.
Of the many people residing there, Nigerians have stood out, maybe because of their aggressive personality – or so, area residents say.
Roysambu has been nicknamed Lagos, after the Nigerian city.
“Our future Member of County Assembly will be a Nigerian,” a local said mockingly.
– Crackdown on illegal foreigners –
Over the past few weeks, the Kenya Government launched a crackdown on foreigners living in the country without stay or work permits.
This was after a 60-day grace period for all foreigners to register afresh, as the government moved to get rid of foreigners who are not only illegally here but also weed out criminals.
This, however, has not gone down well with many residents of Roysambu, especially businessmen.
“These people have a high spending power than locals. Provided they don’t commit any crime, the government should not deport them,” Meshack Waigwa, a resident told Capital FM News.
Such are sentiments shared by many other businessmen, more so boda-boda operators.
– Foreigners being extorted –
Some of the locals who spoke to Capital FM News claim that police officers have profiled certain nationalities and as a result, they are moving to other areas.
John Ndolo, a boda-boda operator is one of the irked lot, who insist “Africa is one and the government should not target anyone.”
“Why only Nigerians while Roysambu hosts people from all over?” he wondered.
He and his colleagues have a special liking for the Nigerian nationals because of their spending power.
“You see, locals pay Sh50 from the highway to the estate, but a Nigerian can even pay up to Sh200 with complaining,” Ndolo said.
Allegations of extortion by authorities are rampant even among Nigerians.
“They (police) will just harass you whether you have the right papers or not just to get money,” one of them running a beauty shop in Roysambu said on condition of anonymity.
James Makau, a boda-boda operator in the estate calls himself an African and like many others, he says only criminals should be deported to their countries of origin.
“I believe in Pan-Africanism, Nigerians are Africans like me, they are good people. If the government has a problem with criminals, they know how to deal with them just like any other Kenyans,” he said.
“The government should ensure no innocent person is harassed by the authorities. We need them if our economy will grow.”
On November 28 last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that all Africans wishing to visit Kenya be issued with visas at the points of entry.
He went ahead to challenger other African countries to open their borders in a bid to promote free movement of people and goods.
“The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity, we will become. The political balkanization that risks our mutual security, the negative politics of identity, will recede as our brotherhood expands to embrace more Africans,” he said.
He also declared that citizens of the East African countries should not only visit the country but also do business without a work permit.
They just need an identity card.
“We don’t want to see Nigerians, or any other foreigners being harassed,” Makau said.
It is evident that Roysambu is blossoming, but will the current crackdown slow the pace?
“You cannot walk freely and spend your money if police will harass you regardless of your status,” another Nigerian national, a student, said.
-About the crackdown-
So far, the government has deported more than 30 foreigners who were found in the country illegally.
Another lot of more than 100 were recently arrested in Mombasa.
To report illegal immigrants, Kenyans have been asked to call 0745-660-151 by the Department of Immigration Services in a crackdown ordered by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.
Kenya spends about Sh360 million per year to deport foreigners found living in the country without the requisite documents.
“We can do more with the Sh360 million. Is it fair? I personally would like to discourage to this idea of spending public resources to deport people,” the CS said.
“We can improve some of our border posts in the country using the money.”
Those who were registered afresh will have their personal data digitized and issued with a card that has security features.
The card will also have their personal information.
Other than ‘taking’ Kenyan jobs, some illegal immigrants have been accused of engaging in crime.
In the past months, detectives have arrested tens of foreigners, some in the country illegally, accused of fleecing Kenyans through Sim Swap fraud, engaging in cyber bullying, child trafficking among other offences.
READ: 19 Nigerians arrested for conning Kenyans through social media platforms
On August 18, Police arrested 19 Nigerians accused of engaging in electronic fraud targeting Kenyans.
The 19 were residing in Umoja, Kasarani and Roysambu Estates within Nairobi.