Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s motorcade comprising at least eight vehicles was pelted with stones in Kakamega Town on Saturday morning August 8 by irate residents.
The residents channeled their anger towards the minister after area governor, Wycliffe Oparanya, allegedly ordered the demolition of their business stalls early Saturday to “pave way for the grand arrival of Kagwe”.
Oparanya, who had arrived at his office at around 7am in preparation of welcoming the Ministry of Health boss to the county, also had his convoy stoned as he sought to address the aggrieved crowd.
A meeting between Oparanya and Kagwe was to be held at the governor’s office early Saturday, and, thereafter, the two leaders were to tour Mumias Level 4 Hospital, before finally addressing journalists at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital.
CS Kagwe’s procession, which arrived in Kakamega from Kisumu airport at around 11am, was forced to reroute to the Mumias Level 4 Hospital after hundreds of youth pelted it with stones to express their anger at the bulldozing of their business premises.
At the time, Oparanya had already left his office for Mumias Hospital.
“We are told Governor Oparanya brought down the structures to pave way for the arrival of CS Kagwe’s convoy. According to the county boss, he wanted Kakamega Town to look ‘presentable’ before the eyes of the minister. We don’t understand how our stalls stop the cabinet secretary from dispensing his duties when he tours Kakamega,” an affected trader who spoke to K24 Digital said.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Lurambi MP Titus Khamala led the hundreds of Kakamega Town youth in demonstrating against the Saturday demolitions.
“I am disappointed by Oparanya for being heartless. He knows very well that currently, due to the coronavirus crisis, Kenyans are facing financial hardships, yet he is at the forefront in demolishing the business stalls that his people are using to eke a living,” Malala told K24 Digital.
“We have tolerated Oparanya for long now. Every time he demolishes stalls in a trading centre, he often says that he did that to construct a more beneficial public utility. He is yet to construct a single facility after overseeing the demolitions since January this year.
“Oparanya and I have been friends for long. But, when it comes to protecting the rights of Kakamega people against oppression, then I would rather terminate my friendship with him, and stand with the mwananchi,” added Malala.
Besides the “unfair demolitions”, the area residents accuse Oparanya of “doing little” to cushion them against contracting coronavirus.
“We understand he received funds to avert the adverse effects of COVID-19 on Kakamega people. Today, he is telling us that everyone in Kakamega Town must wear face masks, especially when the Health minister is around. The big question we are asking him, is: where are the face masks he promised Kakamega Town residents?” posed a trader.
As at time of writing the story, anti-riot police were yet to be deployed to Kakamega Town to quell possible chaos.
CS Kagwe is expected to give his daily COVID-19 address from Kakamega County on Saturday, August 8.
Kenya has so far registered 25,138 cases of COVID-19, with 413 deaths reported and 11,118 recoveries recorded.
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