One man dies as politicians fight over Kiambu market

Monday, May 20th, 2024 03:58 | By
Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a. PHOTO/Print
Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a. PHOTO/Print

A long-standing dispute between Kiambu Members of Parliament and the county government over market projects turned tragic when a man was shot dead in a violent confrontation in Thika signalling the rising political temperatures in Kiambu county ahead of 2027.

The market row has been pitting Kiambu parliamentarians against the county administration in recent months in which the legislators have ganged up in a supremacy battle over control of the facilities.

It also seems to have taken the centre stage of an anticipated political battle after Ng’ang’a declared she would be vying for the Kiambu Governor’s seat in the 2027 elections and has been using every public occasion, backed by her colleagues, to drum up support for her quest.

On several occasions the legislators who include National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) have gone ahead to launch various market projects which incidentally fall under the devolved unit’s mandate.

However, matters turned bloody last Friday when a young man was shot dead and several other people injured during a clash between rival groups in Thika’s Kimuchu area in Kamenu ward where area MCA Peter Mburu was supervising the allocation of stalls in a market which he had launched the previous day.

Launched investigations

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have since launched investigations into the shooting incident which left 26-year-old David Nduati dead while Anthony Kamau, aged 46 years, was seriously injured by a bullet that lodged in his chest.

 At the Thika level 5 hospital where Kamau was admitted in critical condition, a doctor said the bullet had penetrated the chest cavity and punctured a vital organ.

 He added that the patient was stable but weak due to excessive bleeding and that the hospital is making plans to transfer the patient to Kenyatta National Hospital for specialised treatment.

 Four MPs including Ng’ang’a, Ichung’wah, GG Kagombe (Gatundu South) and Njoroge Kururia (Gatundu North) had led their supporters to the new market venue after attending a meeting in a nearby church about 200 meters away.

 The MPs had flown in using a helicopter for a meeting organised by Ng’ang’a to donate food in a nearby church, before proceeding to the market site where they started erecting a sign board using a backhoe excavator, before hell broke loose.

In the ensuing melee, an MP is said to have drawn his pistol and fired several rounds at the crowd which also included a number of uninformed and armed policemen.

Driven to safety

The MP was later admitted at the Nairobi Hospital after he sustained unspecified injuries, according to posts in social media platforms.

Ng’ang’a also suffered an injury on her leg after she was hit by a stone, but was quickly rescued by her aides and driven to safety.

Mburu who has been nursing a fractured right arm and managed to flee using a boda boda motorbike, accused the legislators of provoking the confrontation. “The people were peaceful and going on with construction their market sheds when a group led by the MPs stormed the venue. They are the ones to blame for the violence,” said Mburu.

 He called on the DCI to conduct thorough investigations and bring to book perpetrators of the violence which resulted in loss of life.

 Area assistant county commissioner Philomena Nzioki was also injured in the clash and treated at Avenue Hospital Thika and discharged.

 Police reports indicated that violence broke out when two rival groups started pelting each other with stones when Ng’ang’a led her colleagues and a large crowd to the market site.

 “The actual confrontation started when MP Ng’ang’a and her supporters began erecting a sign post indicating the market area where the MCA supporters were already doing preliminary structures. The MCAs group began pelting stones on the MP and her entourage, forcing them to retreat as police were tackling the rival group with teargas,” said a police source.

 Mburu later said the proposed market was a project of the Kiambu County Government which had set aside Sh50 million for its construction.  “The mandate of constructing markets is constitutionally a preserve of local governments and we have not bent any laws by helping our people out of the roadsides where they have been selling their wares. We have set aside Sh50 million to facilitate construction of a modern market on this parcel that we secured recently,” said Mburu.

 Ichung’wah has been at the forefront of launching markets in the county and beyond, usually accompanied by fellow MPs including Ng’ang’a, Kagombe, Senator Karungo Wa Thang’wah, Njuguna Kawanjiku (Kiambaa), Githua Wamacukuru (Kabete), George Koimburi (Juja), Mburu Kahangara (Lari), Machua Waithaka (Kiambu Town), John Kiragu (Limuru) and Kururia, among others.

 “President William Ruto has remembered us and through his bottom-up transformative model, he has given us modern markets. He authorised us to ground break the construction works for him to come launch them after a certain stage,

“We have money in the accounts to facilitate the construction works and all the employment opportunities will be reserved for the local community,” Ng’ang’a said during the ground-breaking ceremony for construction of Gatukuyu market recently.  “Economic stimulus package ensures that everyone enjoys circulation of money. Such a market will open up this village and the surrounding community. The government is committed to ensuring that every village has a quality market that will see them sell their produce and other wares with ease,” said Kagombe during the same function.

 “This is a national government market and we have been sent here by President William Ruto to launch the Sh70 million market to cushion our traders from a poor trading environment,” remarked MP Kururia during the event.

But Wamatangi, while addressing a meeting in Gikambura, Kikuyu sub county, rubbished the MPs’ claims maintaining that the markets are constitutionally a devolved function and accused some leaders of merely playing dirty politics.

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