Running battles between cart pushers and county askaris paralyse business in Eldoret town
What you need to know:
- Trouble started when the Uasin Gishu county askaris allegedly confiscated trolleys and carts famously referred as ‘pangpang’ on Wednesday night
- It degenerated into a fracas when the owners discovered their tools of trade had been seized
- Several protesters armed with stones and batons were seen smashing car windows before taking some items
Business was paralyzed for the better part of Thursday in Eldoret town following chaotic running battles pitting cart pushers against county askaris, with looters and vandals having a field day.
Trouble started when the Uasin Gishu county askaris allegedly confiscated trolleys and carts famously referred as ‘pangpang’ on Wednesday night. It degenerated into a fracas when the owners discovered their tools of trade had been seized.
Small traders have been using the pangpangs to hawk their wares, especially fruits across the town’s streets.
In protest, incensed pangpang traders protested the move and teamed up with street children, paralyzing business along Oloo street, before it spread to the neighboring premises.
Other traders and motorists were caught unawares as the protesters looted their shops, with others vandalizing parked vehicles, taking any item they could lay their hands on.
In viral videos captured by onlookers, the irate mob who were pelting stones in all directions were seen looting ‘Eldomatt supermarket’ as helpless traders scream for help. In another video, several protesters armed with stones and batons were seen smashing car windows before taking some items.
Samuel Mburu, a pangpang operator, said they attempted engaging the county officials not to seize the carts and give dialogue a chance, in vain.
“The county askaris came and ordered us to pour all the items on the pangpangs in sacks because they had outlawed their usage. They confiscated the apparatus resulting into protests. We blame the county officials for not giving dialogue a chance,” he protested.
A trader, Kipkorir Menjo said a multi-faceted approach and dialogue could help avert such ugly scenes.
“Dealing with criminal elements or illegal traders amongst good people in the market requires a strategy involving security apparatus and the county leadership. How can such critical action be done haphazardly causing huge losses to businesses? This is the second time and no lessons learnt,” lamented Mr Menjo.
Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale termed the incident regrettable and an eyesore, which should not be allowed to recur.
“By the time police were dispatched to normalize the situation, the looting and vandalism had already occurred. We condemn the incident. It is unfortunate to use the street children to rein mayhem and we hope the county government will rehabilitate them into useful members of the society,” he said.
He disclosed several looters and vandals had been arrested and more were being sought because the act was unacceptable.
“We are now in the process of becoming a city and such ugly scenes perpetuated by some rogue elements could scare investors. We cannot condone that,” he warned.
The administrator said the county security team was in talks with the county leadership in a bid to avert such clashes in future, especially on how to resolve the issue of small traders in the town, which should not be rushed.
A month ago, the county askaris were caught up in a clash with street children who were protesting over what they called incessant brutality from the officers.
The fracas went on for hours as street families pelted county askaris with bottles and other crude weapons, prompting anti-riot police to use teargas to disperse them.