The government has declared a 90-day campaign against highway robbers on the Thika-Murang'a road.
This is after motorists and pedestrians complained about being accosted by armed gangs and robbed of their valuables.
"We are now going to dedicate all our resources to this road. We have come together as Kiambu and Murang'a counties to eliminate this menace and we have already started posting real results," Thika West Deputy County Commissioner Mbogo Mathioya told the Nation.
Six suspects have been arrested and a toy pistol and two motorcycles were seized in the past one week, he said.
Residents arrest highway robbers
Three suspected highway robbers were arraigned in a Kandara court in Murang'a and released on a bond of Sh300,000 each.
Residents arrested the three as they robbed pedestrians and motorists at Delview estate in Gatanga sub-county on August 18 and handed them over to the Thika West Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
The teenagers were transferred to the Kirwara Police Station in Gatanga.
Suspects are charged by a police station under whose jurisdiction a crime was committed, which is why the Thika West DCI handed over the three to Gatanga officers.
The trio were arraigned before Senior Resident Magistrate Eric Mutunga On Tuesday, charged with planning to commit a felony, contrary to Section 89(1) of the penal code.
The other three were ordered held for 21 days as police sought five of their colleagues who escaped after they were found robbing pedestrians on Gitura Road on August 16.
The sub-county security committees involved in the campaign against robbers are Thika West, Gatanga, Kandara, Murang'a South, Ithanga-Kakuzi, Kigumo and Murang'a East.
"We are going to clean this road of the highway gangs ... The fight is on where. After Thika West colleagues seal the town from being used as an operation base, my teams will ensure the gangs do not use the Gatanga stretch as their escape route," said Gatanga sub-county police boss Peter Muchemi.
The highway gangs also steal pineapples from Del Monte plantations, said Ithang-Kakuzi Deputy County Commissioner Angela Makau.
"We are addressing the gangs collectively and as things stand, they are cornered," she said.
The gangs prey on drivers of stalled vehicles and rob them as they wait for help, said Kandara sub-county Police Commander Michael Mwaura.
"The gang has been very devastating on our end, because it has even murdered revellers in the Mutoho area. We cannot wait to make them our game," he said.
Murang'a South sub-county Police Commander Alexander Shikondi said the gang is active in Kenol town and on the Kenol-Kambiti road.
"My region is unique in that it is more urbanised and these thugs believe they can infiltrate our estates and entertainment businesses to plan raids ... When we come together and tackle them as a collaboration, their goose is perfectly cooked and served," he said.
Victims fail to cooperate
One problem they have encountered in the operation, he said, is that victims fail to cooperate with the police as witnesses against the suspects once they are arraigned.
An example involves the three who were arraigned on Tuesday at the Kandara courthouse.
When civilians arrested one of them, he was armed with a toy pistol and was caught in the act of robbing road users.
The Kirwara police recorded the three (OB No 3/22/8/2022) as robbery suspects, a capital offence, but they were charged with planning to commit a felony.
Because there were no complainants, the officers dropped capital offence charges for the lesser one of planning to commit a felony.
The police statement at the Gatanga DCI office reads: "[One suspect] was found with a toy pistol and he is among the list of those behind the night attacks of both motorists and pedestrians."
A motorcycle (KMGC 680Z) that the three were using was also confiscated and recorded as evidence.
The joint operation brings together various government agencies, including the DCI, traffic police, administration officers, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and transport stakeholders.