Cargo trucks diverted over Kisumu chaos

Trucks and fuel tankers queue at the Busia border in Uganda as they wait to cross over to Kenya on August 16, 2022. Pockets of protests in Kisumu and neighbouring counties seen to be Raila Odinga’s strongholds broke out on Monday evening after the IEBC announced that he had lost the election. PHOTO / DAVID AWORI

What you need to know:

  • Cargo trucks destined for Kenya via the Busia border are being diverted through Mumias road in Kakamega County to Bugoma and Eldoret.

Uganda and other neighbouring countries are watching the post-Kenyan election situation with bated breath after spontaneous protests rocked Kisumu City and forced cargo truck drivers to either park or look for longer alternative routes.

Cargo trucks destined for Kenya via the Busia border are being diverted through Mumias road in Kakamega County to Bungoma and Eldoret after violent protests broke out in Mr Odinga’s strongholds moments after Mr Wafula Chebukati, the chairperson of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), announced results on Monday. 

The protests in Nyanza continued yesterday even as Mr Odinga and other leaders called for calm after a disputed election.

Angry residents in Nyanza and parts of Nairobi neighbourhood of Kibera lit bonfires, used boulders to barricade roads and forced president-elect William Ruto supporters to flee. In Kisumu, the pro-Odinga protestors chanted “Baba” name, cursed Mr Chebukati and hurled stones at motorists on sight, as well as uniformed police officers. 

Most of the businesses in the affected areas remained closed yesterday even after Nyanza Regional Commissioner deployed more security personal to restore calm and maintain peace.

At the Busia border point, Mr Salim Bwire, a fuel tanker driver, told the Monitor yesterday that they had been forced to divert their trucks from the Kisumu route, back to Mumias, Bungoma, and Eldoret to avoid being caught up in the riots.

In the run up to the Kenyan General Election, Uganda shipped fuel for her reserves, which the Ministry of Energy last week said would be enough to last for 10 days. 

Sector players have warned that any persistent disruptions along the import route might see Uganda, which has already suffered sky rocketing commodity prices, hit with fuel shortages in the coming days.

Recalling the disputed 2007 presidential elections that resulted in the death of 1,100 people and the displacement of more than 600,000, Mr Anwar Awad, another cargo truck driver, told Monitor that he had decided to park his truck in Kampala for at least a week for fear of violence that might erupt in Kenya. 

Mr Kassim Namudya, a clearing agent at the Busia border, told Monitor that foreign-registered trucks remain parked for fear of being targeted by angry pro-Odinga rioters.

Mr Ismael Maganda, the chairperson of Fresh Fruits Traders’ Association at the Busia border, explained that they were stuck with tonnes of oranges, watermelons and pineapples, all destined for the Kenyan market because they have failed to get trucks that can take them across the border.

Security beefed up

As riots reportedly broke out in Mr Odinga’s strongholds of Kisumu and Migori, security was beefed up at both the Ugandan and Kenyan sides of the border. 

Areas of Sofia and Marachi on the Ugandan side have been teeming with police, which has setup checkpoints, while patrol cars with anti-riot police have been seen along the border to keep watch of the situation across the border. 

Mr Michael Kibwika, the Busia Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said: “We had a meeting with our Kenyan counterparts before the elections and agreed that we should carry out border monitoring during and after the elections, and that is what we are doing.” He said despite the heightened security presence, there were no major incidences reported across the border.

At Malaba, another border point with Kenya, the Tororo RDC, Mr Nixon Owole, described the situation as “normal” and said there was no need to panic.

Situation at Malaba border
Mr Andrew Orone, the Malaba Town Council chairperson, however, said business has slowed down at the border.
Mr Francis Otieno, a Kenyan national and clearing agent at the border, said in Busia-Kenya, shops and fuel stations remained closed while few passenger vehicles returned on the road.
He said police and operatives of the General Service Unit (GSU) had fired teargas canisters in areas of Marachi as they dispersed a group of rogue youth, who were reportedly blocking roads using stones and bonfires- Additional reporting by Fred Wambede

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