ABOUT SGR OR POLITICS?

'Hired' youths disrupt anti-SGR haulage demos

Ali says senior politicians paid them Sh700 to disrupt protests, says Joho involved

In Summary

• Several youths arrested, MP says Governor Joho has also intimidated leaders who are now afraid to join protests. 

• Joho allies, however, say he has no time as 'he is busy trying to unite the people of Kenya through the BBI'. 

Nyali MP Mohammed Ali during a 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa.
INTIMIDATED: Nyali MP Mohammed Ali during a 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid [in sack] during the 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa.
ANTI-SGR: Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid [in sack] during the 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The 'Black Monday' demonstrations against the SGR-only cargo haulage in Mombasa are increasingly turning into a battle between Mombasa politicians. 

Some say the tumult is all about the Mombasa governor's seat. 

On Monday, a group of youths tried to block protesters from advancing to the Changamwe roundabout from Makupa roundabout along the Makupa Causeway, which links Mombasa Island to Mombasa West.

Nyali MP Mohammed Ali said the youths had been hired by senior county politicians to disrupt the protests.

“The youth were paid Sh700 each by some politician who has interest in the SGR business. We know who benefitted from the SGR business at the expense of residents,” Ali said.

“We are doing peaceful demos to advocate for our rights and the economy of Mombasa which is being killed. But someone who is fearful we will expose the truth is now trying to cause chaos using the youth." 

He accused Governor Hassan Joho of having a hand in the attempts to disrupt the demos in which several youths were arrested.

He said Joho has also intimidated leaders who are now afraid to join the demonstrations.

Why should he be dreaming about Joho wherever he goes? Let him concentrate on his Nyali constituency.
Nominated MCA Fatma Kushe

“Leaders including MCAs and MPs should come out strongly against this. Who elected them, is it the governor or the people of Mombasa?” the MP asked. 

However, Joho’s lieutenants Fatma Kushe and Mohamed Hatimy accused Ali of being obsessed with Joho and 'no longer thinking straight'.

“Why should he be dreaming about Joho wherever he goes? Let him concentrate on his Nyali constituency,” nominated MCA Kushe said.

Hatimy said Joho has no time to hire thugs to do anything. 

“He is busy trying to unite the people of Kenya through the BBI. Ali should just wait for his term to end and exit the political scene,” he said. 

Ali on Monday led the demos for the third consecutive week.

He seems to have taken over from his Mvita counterpart Abdulswamad Nassir, who himself took over from Kisauni's Ali Mbogo. 

Neither of the three has declared or intimated interest in succeeding Joho in 2022.

Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi and Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki have both at one time been part of the protests. 

The demos are primarily meant to force the government to reverse the directive that compelled importers to use the standard gauge railway to transfer their cargo from the Mombasa Port to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi for clearance, except for cargo destined for Mombasa.

Mombasa leaders during a 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa
DIRECTIVE 'NOT SUSPENDED': Mombasa leaders during a 'Black Monday' demo in Mombasa
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The government says the directive has been suspended and importers are free to choose the mode of transport for their cargo but the demonstrators, including transporters, truckers, the civil society and politicians, say that is not the case.

They insist truckers and transporters are being frustrated at the Mombasa Port so that they don’t pick cargo. They want the directive withdrawn and withdrawal published in the Gazette.

This hiring of goons is a new low. Whoever did it will not intimidate us.
Hussein Khalid, Aki Africa director

Ali said if the BBI does not address the issues affecting the Mombasa economy, the unemployment crisis and insecurity among other crucial issues, then it will be a futile document. 

“If the BBI does not address the SGR problem, the transport sector, the unemployment menace, then we have no business supporting it,” Ali said.

Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid said the hiring of goons to try and stop them from advocating for the rights of Mombasa residents is stooping low.

“This is a new low. Whoever did it will not intimidate us,” Khalid said.

For the third time in a row, Ali and human rights activist Boniface Mwangi joined in the demonstrations.

Nassir and Mbogo, who were with the demonstrators from the beginning, are no longer seen at the protests.

Mbogo was last seen with the group on October 5 when Fast Action Business Community members clashed with him, accusing him of siding with the government against them.

He had suggested that the protestors suspend their Monday protests to allow the government to reverse their directive.

The Kisauni MP also quarreled with Ali during the protests on October 1 when Mbogo accused Ali of being a joyrider and only jumping onto the bandwagon after pressure from residents.

Nassir acted as the peacemaker at that time.

He also cautioned Ali against calling Joho names. 

Edited by R.Wamochie