Group seeks to block State from interfering with demos

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 09:21 |
Mombasa traders and truck drivers, among others, protest outside Mombasa Law Courts on Monday carrying an effigy of Tourism CS Najib Balala, whom they want to resign over recent remarks. PD/BONFACE MSANGI

By Monica Kagia  and Harrison Kivisu

Traders who have been holding weekly anti-Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) demonstrations in the streets of Mombasa have moved to court seeking to stop the government from interfering with the protests.

Five directors of First Action Business Movement have filed a petition at Mombasa High Court under the certificate of urgency, claiming the government is infringing on their constitutional rights by preventing them from holding the protests.

Through lawyer Yusuf Abubakar, the petitioners— Ahmed Omar, Dennis Okamu, Mohammed Shariff, Albert Adembesa  and Mathias Shipeta— claimed the officers commanding Makupa and Changamwe police stations as well as the Mombasa county commissioner have threatened to bar  them from holding the said procession “by any means necessary”. 

They said after informing the OCSs of plans to hold the demos their request was declined and the police said they would “do anything necessary to stop them”.

The business people have been holding demos every Monday dubbed “Black Monday” to pressure the government to revoke an order requiring all upcountry-bound cargo be transported via the SGR to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

Step aside

Petitioners claim the directive has led to loss of business for road transport and logistics companies.

The Attorney General, Interior ministry, Inspector General of Police, the county police commander, OCS Makupa and Changamwe police stations have been listed as the respondents. Justice Erick Ogolla, directed that both parties return to court tomorrow for inter partes hearing. 

At the same time, the traders want Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to resign over his remarks that owners of Container Freight Stations were sponsoring the anti-SGR demos as fight back “to save their clandestine illegal businesses”.

“He should tell us what he knows... he should step aside,” said Salim Karama, Fast Action Business Community movement chairman.

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