Police halt busy highway protest

Police have repulsed angry demonstrators who had barricaded the Nairobi-Mombasa highway for more than 24 hours demanding the immediate repair of the dilapidated Voi-Taveta road.

Taita Taveta Police boss Nathaniel Aseneka said after dialogue failed they had to use an alternative method to open up the flow of traffic.

The closure of the road held the country and other East African Community member states economy at ransom following delayed delivery of cargo to and from the Port of Mombasa.

The protest started on Monday when Matatu owners withdrew their vehicles from the road and were later joined by the local residents on Tuesday. They barricaded the road with boulders and burning tyres.

A contingent of general service unit descended on the protesters who had camped at the road for the whole night and beat them up.

They came in four lorries at 4 a.m. and engaged the rowdy youth by firing tear gas before opening the road for motorists.

Long distance trucks and buses were held up in Voi overnight.

On Tuesday, the government released Sh20m for routine maintenance works on the stretch.

Roads minister Franklin Bett said his Ministry had advertised tenders for reconstruction of the road and he expected the contractor to be on site by March 2011.


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