Police on Wednesday arrested more than 25 youth in Kajiado town on claims they were planning an illegal demonstration.
The police rounded up the youth from as early as 8 am, with some caught u as they took tea in hotels before they could converge to demonstrate against a multinational company.
One of their leaders, Kevin Kispan, spoke to KNU while in police custody and protested the arrest saying they had only planned for a peaceful demonstration against Tata Chemicals Magadi for allegedly retrenching a big number of Maasais, two weeks ago.
Kispan said they were dumped in the police cells after the arrest without being allowed to defend themselves through statements.
“We have been here for hours and no one has come to take our statements. They arrested 25 of us in the morning. It is like they had all our names, because on being arrested one of them called me by my name,” said Kispan.
Kajiado Central deputy sub-county commander, Joseph Mutiria, said the youths were arrested after it emerged they had planned an illegal assembly.
“Those arrested will be processed for prosecution in line with the prevailing laws,” said Mutiara.
Some of the youth in the police cells accused the police of arresting them when they went to the station to check on their colleagues and inquire why they were locked in.
The youth insisted that TCML must explain the reason they targeted the local community in their restructuring process.
TCML chief executive officer Subodh Srivastav, before the restructuring process, wrote a letter notifying all the staff reasons the company was planning to cut down on expenses.
Srivastav said the high costs of power and operational challenges have caused reduced revenues from the sales of its products in highly competitive and declining internal markets.
Governor Joseph ole Lenku opposed the restructuring and the laying off saying it was targeting the local Maasai. He warned it will not happen under his watch, adding that if the company attempts it, he will ensure Tata will ship out of the country.
“They will do that over my dead body. They are using our land, our minerals and paying their managers huge salaries only to sack the local junior Maasai, never. Let them sack two or more managers and retain the Maasais employed,” said Lenku when the company announced plans to restructure.
Srivastav said the company’s sales and market price trends show a steady decline from the year 2017 to the financial year 2020/2021. Some 112 staffers were retrenched in the latest exercise.
“The scale of the challenges to the business was further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic requiring the company to make drastic changes including the reduction of its workforce directly affecting 20 per cent of our staff to survive the various economic shocks,” said the CEO.