Hundreds of hawkers on Wednesday engage police officers in running battles in Kitengela town after a section of them broke into a market construction site.
Police officers were alerted by the county government’s inspection unit department that the hawkers, who had gathered around the new construction site had illegally broken into it.
Police received reports that the hawkers had removed half of the fencing iron sheets, and also stolen building materials such as cement and iron rods.
All the businesses around the market closed down immediately the hawkers clashed with the police, and the area that is normally full of activity remained deserted the entire afternoon.
The incident, which took place a few minutes after 1 O’clock, saw a fierce fight between armed police officers and the hawkers who attacked them with stones.
Trouble started after the police officers ordered them out of the site when one of them threw a stone at the law enforcement officers.
Police officers were forced to shoot live bullets in the air as others lobbed teargas at the surging crowds commandeered by hawkers armed with all manner of crude weapons, including stones and metal rods.
As the police dispersed the hawkers out of the new site, others continued demolishing into it from a different direction.
It took the police more than one hour to secure the market which under the construction.
The hawkers claim the construction of the new market is taking too long to complete and that their patience of waiting had run out.
Area deputy county commissioner, Stanley Too, said the culprits who organised the invasion of the market construction site are known and that the police are pursuing them.
“Their action borders on incitement, and we are not going to leave any stone unturned until we arrest them. We know their leader and we are going for him,” said Too.
The county government is putting up a modern multimillion shillings market on the new site.
Governor Joseph Lenku had in May said Sh40 million will be used to build a three-storeyed market on the site, but hawkers and traders aligned to their chairman, Samuel Mugo, went to court to oppose the construction.
It was after the matter was heard and determined in court in July that the hawkers were forced to move out of the site to pave way for the construction to start.
When contacted on the phone, Mugo said he was away in Kajiado town to attend a court matter.
“I am not in Kitengela at the moment but I hear those policemen are forcing people to move out of their houses at Nyika estate to move to a new market site near Kitengela police station,” Mugo said.
But Too said the police are closing in on Mugo, adding that they have intelligence reports on the businessman showing he organised Wednesday’s revolt against law enforcement officers.
Mugo has a similar case of incitement pending at Kajiado law courts.
At the time of filing this report, we had not established the number of arrests or those who were injured during the melee.