What you need to know:
- The residents demanded that security agents relax the dusk-to-dawn curfew now in its fourth month.
- Police provided armed escort for a local airline whose boat was used to ferry visitors to and from the island.
- County leaders want the curfew lifted in areas such as the island, which were not affected by the attacks.
- But Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa was among leaders who want the curfew to remain until everyone behind the killings is arrested.
Businesses and transport in Lamu Island were paralysed Tuesday when residents withdrew all services in a protest to demand that security agents relax the dusk-to-dawn curfew now in its fourth month.
Transport to and from the island was suspended when boat operators joined in the protests.
As a result, visitors who were either scheduled to fly out of the country or visit the Lamu archipelago had difficulties getting to or from Manda airstrip.
However, police provided armed escort for a local airline whose boat was used to ferry visitors to and from the island.
Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo imposed the curfew on July 21 in the wake of attacks by gangs that killed 89 people in various parts of Lamu County.
The curfew has since been extended twice.
County leaders, including Governor Issa Timamy, Senator Abu Chiaba, Woman Representative Shakila Abdalla and Muslim leaders want the curfew lifted in areas such as the island, which were not affected by the attacks.
Protesters said the blanket curfew has negatively affected the county’s economy and impoverished residents.
However, Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa was among leaders who want the curfew to remain until everyone behind the killings is arrested.
Almost all shops, hotels and even the municipal market were closed while other services were withdrawn as the residents protested the extension of the curfew to November 23, 2014.
Security was tight around the town as hundreds of armed police patrolled the streets while several police helicopters flew over the island.
In an interview with the Nation, Mr Timamy said he would seek to meet President Kenyatta to ask him to intervene if a meeting he planned with security officers failed to lift the curfew.
He did not say when the security meeting would be held.
“My people have cried for long. Our key economic activities have died and I think I will not bear this any longer,” he said.
The county’s deputy commissioner, Mr Fredrick Ndambuki, warned residents against taking part in any activity that might disrupt peace.
He also asked the youth to avoid destroying people’s property.
“Let them demonstrate provided they respect peoples’ properties.
"We won’t allow any forms of public disturbance. We have enough security officers on the ground and we are ready for them,” he said.
In some parts of the town, there was chaos as groups of rowdy youth moved from shop to shop throwing stones at owners who dared to open their premises. Some dumped garbage outside the business premises that were open.
Some business owners said they closed down to avoid being victimised by the protesters.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a trader said the decision to suspend business operations, including boat services, was ill-advised.
“The curfew itself has (hurt) the economy of the island and taking this decision will only worsen the already bad situation,” he said.
However, those who supported the protest said they would continue to paralyse all the services for the whole week unless the curfew is lifted.
One of them, Mr Hamisi Omar, said the curfew was unnecessary.
“Fishermen can’t go fishing at night. Tourism has also been affected. In fact the two sectors are dead in Lamu since the curfew was imposed. It must be lifted,” he said.
Another protester, Mr Aboud Abdulrahman said: “We are not happy with the government. Lamu is peaceful. Why is the curfew being extended each time? Let it be lifted or mapped only in most affected areas.”
Protesters won’t allow any business or boat to operate until the curfew is lifted.
“We will do this for as long as it takes,” he said.
Mr Rishad Amana, a Lamu politician, supported the protest, saying, imposing of a curfew for four months was unfair to innocent citizens.
Mr Amana said the government should protect the residents and not to intimidate them through a curfew.
He asked Mr Kimaiyo to relax the curfew to save the Lamu economy, which, he said, was at stake.
“During the 1982 coup, a curfew was introduced for six days only.
"Why is it that in Lamu the curfew is prolonged every month?” he asked.
“We want to be fairly treated and I support the Lamu people.
"We will not eat, drink or allow any activity in the town to proceed till the curfew is lifted.”
Mr Kimaiyo was expected in Lamu Town on Tuesday to discuss the issue with local leaders.