Why Kisumu is silent on the Finance Bill

Kisumu City

A view of Kisumu City from Lake Victory.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • On Tuesday, Nairobi was rocked by Anti-Finance Bill protests
  • Kisumu residents appeal to MPs to consider the plight of the voters.

As protests over the Finance Bill, 2024 rocked Nairobi and Mombasa on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kisumu remained uncharacteristically calm.

There has been a deafening silence in the lakeside city over the last two days as Parliament debated the Bill.

Usually, residents of Kisumu are known for their political agitation against the government. This time, that is not the case.

The calmness in the political backyard of opposition leader Raila Odinga has been baffling.

While some residents have expressed opposition to the contents of the Bill, a number of them said they are not keen in taking to the streets to demonstrate.

Instead, they said they will allow the people who voted for the Kenya Kwanza administration to hold the people they put into power accountable. 

“For the longest time, we have been leading the country in demonstrations, but not anymore. We want those who voted for this government to protest because they know best where the shoe pinches most,” said Mr Gordon Ochieng.

From the moment President William Ruto was declared the winner in the 2022 General Election, Mr Ochieng' said he was prepared for the worst.

He however lauded the protesters for coming out and expressing their disappointment with the government.

"While the government has been imposing taxes on almost everything, there has been nothing to show for it," he said. 

Despite the significant increase of taxes, Bernard Odhiambo, a taxi driver, noted that it was unfortunate that Kenyans continued to put up with poor infrastructure, high cost of living, high rate of unemployment caused by closure of a number of companies.

“If this bill is passed, all of us are going to suffer, it doesn't matter whether you come from Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri or Kiambu,” said Mr Odhiambo. 

"Over the years, Kisumu residents have borne the brunt of going to the streets to demonstrate about bad leadership but the rest of Kenyans never pay attention. Even if the fuel prices shoot to Sh1000 per litre or the bread prices increase to Sh500, we will not say a word. It is time for those who voted (for this governmet) to feel the pinch." 

Mr Odhiambo said he decided to stay back and allow those who supported the government to demonstrate. 

“We have been recording injuries and deaths. This is the same pain we want the rest of the country to feel so that in the next election, they will know why it is important to choose wisely,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the locals have appealed to members of parliament to consider the plight of the voters before deciding to pass the bill or not. 

“Our silence does not mean that we are in support of the bill, we are against it, the taxes have been too much, we Kenyans are tired and it is high time this tax madness is stopped,” said Mr Josphat Oduor, a boda boda rider.