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more insecurity - Singing in the Flames

Date: 2007-03-31 03:33
Subject: more insecurity
Security: Public
I'm glad I'm not dependent on local transport...

We've had some ugly incidents in Kenya recently, involving a violent gang (the Mungiki) that has been shaking down matatu drivers in a mafia-style protection racket.   Drivers are charged a fee to travel their routes; those who refused to pay have been abducted and beaten.  A few have disappeared and are feared dead. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, matatu operators on several major routes went on strike, in protest of these extortionate practices and the ineffective action of authorities. Hundreds of passengers were stranded.  There were outbreaks of violence, as groups of matatu drivers burned several homes belonging to suspected gang members.  The police went in and established order, with over 53 arrests made, and matatu service resumed Thursday.  However, tensions remain.

On Thursday, the government has announced the formation of an elite police unit tasked with tracking down the Mungiki and ending their predatory activities.  They also have the difficult task of identifying police officers who, it is believed, have colluded with the gang.  Matatu drivers have been advised not to take matters into their own hands, but many are skeptical of the ability of the police to protect them.  An association of matatu drivers and operators has reaffirmed their determination to go after the gang in order to protect themselves and their livelihoods.

Sadly, more violence seems likely, especially if the new task force fails to deliver...
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January 2010