Protesters cripple operations in major cities, scores hurt, gangs terrorise public

Anti-government protests

Protesters clash with police officers in during the anti-government protests in Kangemi, Nairobi on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Despite the High Court banning the use of teargas, anti-riot police defied the order.
  • In Nakuru, one person was shot and seriously injured as police engaged protesters.

Anti-government protesters on Tuesday made good their threat to occupy major streets across the country which paralysed normal operations in cities and towns.

Despite the High Court banning the use of teargas, anti-riot police defied the order and fired at protesters who lit bonfires as they demanded the resignation of President William Ruto.

The chaos spilled onto Nairobi Expressway at the Mlolongo footbridge as demonstrators blocked the key road and inconvenienced hundreds of motorists.

Waving placards, the protesters chanted their dissatisfaction with the government over the high cost of living, unemployment and perceived corruption as Kenyans struggle.

The situation escalated quickly, prompting the deployment of a contingent of Recce Squad officers to restore order.

One of the protesters, Francis Mutuku, said they will not relent in their quest to ensure accountability and transparency in the government.

“Our children are struggling to find jobs and life is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive. The President has only two choices; either he listens to us or he resigns. We need action, not empty promises,” he said.

For the better part of the day, Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street, Mfangano Street and Luthuli Avenue were turned into a battleground as protesters and the police engaged each other in running battles.

Anti-government protests

A protester reads a newspaper on Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi during the anti-government protests on July 2, 2024.


Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Earlier on, a few buses operated at the Machakos Country Bus.

At Muthurwa and Wakulima markets, a few traders were going about their business but many stalls remained closed.
Magistrates at Milimani Law Courts put off all cases scheduled for mention and hearing until today.

Robbery cases were reported at Khoja Roundabout and near Old Nation House along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi. In one case, some rowdy youth roughed up a trader and made away with his phone and wallet.

The emergence of criminals and looters during the protests forced members of the business community along Ronald Ngala, Mfangano Street, Hakati Road and Luthuli Avenue to team up and protect their businesses.

On the other hand, the busy Jogoo Road, which connects the Nairobi central business district to the populous Eastlands, was a no-go-zone with demonstrators facing off with police in a duel for the better part of the afternoon. 

Teargas and gunshots rent the air between Kamukunji Roundabout and City Stadium as demonstrators lit bonfires in protest.

Some protesters who openly carried machetes, rungus and stones did not relent even when the police repulsed them using teargas and fired into the air.

While police battled them from the main road, a section of protesters hid inside Muthurwa Market and occasionally came out to throw stones at the officers.

Anti-government protests

Anti-riot police officers drive past a bonfire lit by protestors during the anti-government protests in Mtwapa, Kilifi County on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

In Kitengela town, Kajiado County, business was brought to a standstill after youthful protesters barricaded Namanga Road.

They gave officers from Kitengela Police Station a hard time as they tried to out a bonfire on the busy highway.

Some buses ferrying passenger and trucks carrying goods to and from Tanzania were blocked. Some of the vehicles turned back.

“We have at least 50 trucks ferrying perishable goods and more loaded with cereals stranded at the border point. We will wait for normalcy to return,” truck driver Joseph Mwangindi told the Nation.

In Nakuru, one person was shot and seriously injured as police engaged protesters in running battles.

The man was shot in the arm during a confrontation between the police and protesters along Kenyatta Avenue.

The confrontation happened as police attempted to disperse the crowds that were disrupting operations and traffic in the Nakuru central business district.

Earlier, the protesters had attempted to block the busy Nakuru-Eldoret highway but were repulsed by the police who fired teargas at them.

Anti-government protesters

Anti-government protesters ride on a motorbike along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Major supermarkets such as Naivas and Cleanshelf were closed as the owners feared that their businesses would be looted by the rowdy crowds.

Kenya Prisons Service officers were deployed to help beef up security.

The neighbouring Bomet, Kericho and Narok towns, however, remained largely calm as police patrolled the areas.

In Kilifi County, a peaceful protest in Mtwapa was disrupted by anti-riot police officers after they lobbed teargas at the demonstrators as they marched past Mtwapa Sub-County Hospital.

The move caused confusion and panic as medical staff and patients took to their heels to avoid the choking teargas.

The protesters became violent and blocked the Mtwapa-Kilifi highway; lit bonfires and threw stones at the police. Traders hurriedly closed their businesses.

In Mombasa, what began as a peaceful demonstration turned chaotic after criminal gangs from Kisauni and Likoni reigned terror on innocent residents.

In disguise of being demonstrators, the gangs robbed shops and burnt vehicles as the police watched helplessly.

They also robbed people of their valuables at Mwembe Tayari, the central business district, Dedan Kimathi Road and Nyerere Avenues. Traders are counting losses after their business premises were broken into.

Anti-government protesters

Two vehicle burn along Nyerere Avenue in Mombasa after being set ablaze by anti-government protesters July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Along Nyerere Avenue, a pharmacy and popular eateries were vandalised by the goons, who could be seem walking freely without any hindrance.

Along the same streets, four high-end vehicles were burnt as other motorists rushed to save their vehicles which were being targeted by protesters.

The demonstrations that had started peacefully at Pembe za Ndovu turned chaotic as soon as a bigger group from Kisauni and Likoni joined the protests at Saba Saba area.

Demonstrations did not take place in Lamu, Matuga, Kinango and Lungalunga sub-counties.

The streets in Ukunda, Kwale County were deserted as criminals attacked residents and businesspeople.

Businesswoman Meswaleh Athman in Darad, Ukunda said that even though there was no violence in the area, traders would return home empty handed because customers stayed at home for fear of getting mugged.

Kwale County Commissioner Stephen Orinde said that the police were on high alert to smoke out criminals who infiltrated the protests.

In Kisumu County, the police acted with a lot of restraint as the march by protesters was largely peaceful.

Compared to the previous ones, the crowd looked subdued but managed to march from Kondele to the Kisumu State Lodge.

Anti-government protesters

Anti-government protesters light a bonfire in Karatina town in Nyeri County on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

In Kisii County, protesters attempted to storm the home of Nyaribare Chache Member of Parliament Zaheer Jhanda.

The demonstrations started at Capital Roundabout in Kisii town where protesters barricaded the road and chanted “Ruto must go”.

They divided themselves into groups and used different roads leading to Mr Jhanda's home as the police remained on high alert. 

In Eldoret, a contingent of officers started patrolling the town as early as 7am.

In Karatina, Nyeri County, there was drama when demonstrators took to the streets singing funeral dirges. “Pall bearers” carried a casket and sang dirges as they dramatised “a mock burial of the President”.

The youthful demonstrators said the casket symbolised those killed during last week's demos.

There was a heavy police at major supermarkets across the town, while some businesses opted to remain closed.

This was after protesters last week looted Chieni Supermarket which belongs to Kieni MP Njoroge Wainaina.

There were also police officers on roads leading to universities and colleges in and near the town.

Anti-government protests

A protesters displays the shell casing of a live bullet during the anti-government protests in Kangemi, Nairobi on July 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

In Kirinyaga County, the Central Region National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) lit candles in memory of the youth who died during last week’s protests. The clergy told the government to stop using the police to violently break up peaceful demonstrations.

Speaking at Sagana Bethany House in Kirinyaga County, the regional NCCK officials stressed that it was the right of the youth to picket peacefully as they contributed to the reshaping of the country.

“The use of excessive force that includes shooting demonstrators must be stopped,” said the regional treasurer, Reverend David Njuguna. 

The clergy also told the government to unconditionally release all those who were arrested during the anti- Finance Bill demonstrations.

Learners in Laikipia County, who were scheduled to report back to school yesterday after the mid-term break, were advised to remain at home in the wake of the street protests.

In Garissa County, unlike last week when there were protests, the region remained relatively calm with people going on with their usual business.

In Kakamega County, Kenya Defence Forces soldiers kept vigil in the central business district.

In Kitui South, youth at Mutomo market took to the streets to demonstrate against their MP Rachael Nyamai for voting for the passage of the controversial Finance Bill.

The peaceful youths were earlier attacked by hired goons wielding crude weapons including bows and arrows before the police intervened and arrested the attackers.

Reporting by Victor Raballa, Rushdie Oudia, Ruth Mbula, Mwangi Ndirangu, David Muchui, Manase Otsialo, George Munene, Mercy Mwende, Stephen Munyiri, Mercy Koskei, Vitalis Kimutai, John Njoroge, Cecil Odong, Jurgen Nambeka, Wachira Mwangi, Siago Cece, Kazungu Kalume and Stanley Ngotho