Road users plying the Nairobi- Machakos highway were Friday stranded for more than eight hours when boda boda operators in Athi River barricaded the highway over police extortion.
The enraged boda boda operators from 39 passenger picking points in the region blocked the highway along three different junctions in Devki, Sabaki and Mto wa mawe as they engaged police in running battles.
An operator who requested anonymity told KNA that the traffic police officers have formed a habit of stopping and arresting them without valid reasons.
“Three of my colleagues were this morning stopped by the officers at Devki and their motorcycle keys confiscated. When they complained, they were arrested and their monocycles ferried to Athi river police station” said an operator.
He disclosed that 15 other operators were later arrested when they went to the station to demand release of their colleagues leading to the chaos.
The operator further claimed that the officers were demanding Sh. 30, 000 for the release of each motorcycle in their custody.
“We are fed-up and will be on the rampage for as long as our motorcycles and our colleagues are at the police station. We will not give any bribes for them to be released” he vowed.
Another operator claimed that most of their motorcycles had been damaged as they were being towed to the police station following the unwarranted arrests.
Athi River OCPD, Kizito Mutoro who addressed the press in Devki however refuted the claims saying that those who had gone on rampage were a gang of criminals out to disrupt traffic flow.
Mutoro defended the traffic officers saying they were conducting their normal daily crack down on boda boda operators who had not complied with traffic rules.
The police boss said the owners of the arrested motorcycles did not have valid licenses in addition to not having helmets and reflector jackets.
He said the traffic officers will continue to patrol the road day and night until the Easter holiday is over to ensure normal flow of the traffic is not disrupted.
Mutoro confirmed that twelve boda boda operators were already in police custody and will be arraigned in court to answer to charges of flouting traffic rules
Source: Kenya News Agency