At least 20 human rights activists were on Monday morning arrested after protests against a directive requiring importers to use the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to transport all containers from the Mombasa port turned chaotic.
During the incident at the City Blue Hotel near Nyali Bridge, police were forced to lob teargas canisters at the demonstrators. Several activists are said to have sustained injuries during the mayhem.
Among those arrested include Muslim for Human Rights’ Francis Auma, Haki Africa’s Hussein Khalid and the leadership of (Fast Action Business Community).
The weekly protests against the directive that was jointly issued by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Ports Authority have been ongoing since last month.
Unlike in previous protests, no leaders participated in today’s demonstrations.
Earlier on Saturday, the activists clashed with Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo who had asked them to call off the weekly demos.
The protests come three days after the state suspended the directive following a consultative meeting with local leaders.
Some of the leaders who sat in the meeting which was held at Harambee House include Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and other Coast MPs, with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and Transport’s James Macharia.
Others present included KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku and his Kenya Railways counterpart Philip Mainga.
The leaders said they had agreed that the directive from the Ministry of Transport, which had almost killed operations of truck businesses, would immediately be suspended.
This was, however, the second time the directive was being “suspended”.
On August 6, the government reportedly suspended the directive after stakeholders in the industry protested its implementation.
The activists have termed the suspension as hot air saying importers are being forced to transport their cargo via SGR to Nairobi.
“On the ground, nothing is happening. We cannot trust that government anymore. We cannot trust a word coming out of that ministry anymore,” said Philip Jagero, FABC legal officer.