The fight between President Kenyatta and Governor Hassan Joho on Monday brought Mombasa Island to at a standstill ahead of the relaunch of Mtongwe Ferry.
This was after police mounted a heavy search on vehicles and people using Nyali Bridge in what Mr Joho says was plan to arrest him.
The officers from the Presidential Escort, the Flying squad and the General Service Unit were stopping every vehicle crossing the bridge amid claims of a plot to block Mr Joho from accessing town.
Police block Mr Joho on Nyali Bridge on March 13, 2017. Police later escorted and detained the governor in his office. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP.
After an hour of stop-and-search, Mr Joho, who had abandoned his vehicle to beat the traffic, arrived at the police blockade on a motorcycle.
The officers blocked and held him and Mvita MP Mr Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, who was also riding on a motorcycle.
The officers escorted the governor to his office, where they stood guard and surrounded it before being joined by their colleagues from the Anti-Terror Police Unit.
It was not immediately clear what the police were investigating but Mr Joho, a fierce critic of Mr Kenyatta in the Coast, was among guests expected to attend the relaunch of the ferry.
Mr Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, the Mvita MP, took this motorcycle to beat the heavy traffic. He was stopped by police together with Mr Joho. PHOTO | GALGALLO BOCHA | NATION MEDIA GROUP.
Later, Mr Joho held a press conference a the county headquarters where he said he had been detained in his office.
He said the officers had said they were under instructions not to allow him out until President Kenyatta leaves Mombasa.
The governor condemned the office arrest, saying as the local leader, he has the responsibility of representing his people at the ferry re-launch.
The morning traffic woes saw passengers, including political and business leaders, from the North Coast spend more than three hours on the road.
Police block Mr Joho on Nyali Bridge on March 13, 2017. Police later escorted and detained the governor in his office. PHOTO | GALGALLO BOCHA | NATION MEDIA GROUP.
The traffic became heavy after the officers were deployed to Lights Stage allegedly to block Mr Joho’s convoy.
Three officers in civilian took control of the traffic only allowing vehicles from Nyali Road, while blocking motorists from Malindi-Mombasa Road
Tired of the jam pain, matatu touts stormed out of their vehicles and confronted the officers.
At some point, the officers fled the scene after they were overwhelmed by the touts.
Transport PS Irungu Nyakera arrives at Mtongwe the ferry re-launch. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP.
But the Jubilee Party accused Mr Joho of withdrawing the county’s traffic marshalls in “a deliberate and calculated move” to cause a serious traffic snarl-up.
“This is cheap tactics to win sympathy and to try and humiliate the President who is expected to open the Mtongwe Ferry shortly.” Mr Suleiman Shahbal, the Jubilee gubernatorial aspirant said.
“This is also a continuation of his drama-queen behaviour that has been witnessed before when he refused to leave a police station claiming he was being detained.”
Kenya Ferry Services chairman Ramadhan Kajembe arrives at Mtongwe ahead of the re-launch. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP.
According to a senior police officer who spoke to the Nation, the Monday operation was targeting a “big person”.
Area police chief Christopher Rotich, however, said the operation was a “normal one”.
“What is going on is a normal duty. That is a highway used by many people and we have to do search operation” he said.
President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto’s visit comes at a time when the area, seen by two top coalitions as crucial in providing a swing vote in the August polls, is experiencing heightened political activities and defections.
The Jubilee Party supremos have been keen on dislodging their key critics in the region- Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Kilifi’s Amason Kingi.
Mr Shahbal, a businessman, and his running mate Anania Mwaboza are being fronted to dethrone Mr Joho while Kilifi North MP Gedion Mung’aro who has poached Mr Kingi’s deputy Kennedy Kamto to be his number two to square it out with the vocal lawyer.
JP has also got a boost following Lamu Governor Issa Timamy and Tana River’s Hussein Dado’s move to back President Kenyatta for a second term.
Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, MPs Zainab Chidzuga, Mustafa Iddi, Masoud Mwahima, Taita Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo, woman representative Joyce Lay and Mombasa deputy governor Hazel Katana have also shifted allegiance from ODM to JP.
Apart from President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, who have been camping at the Coast nearly monthly to plead with locals to back them, Nasa principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula have also been making frequent forays to consolidate their support.
Mr Musyoka was in Kilifi on Saturday and Sunday to campaign for Wiper Party and Nasa.
Nasa sees the region as its stronghold as ODM won most of the seats in 2013.
The six Coast counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties have a total of more than 1.5 million registered voters, which the top coalitions view as up from grabs as the area has no presidential candidate for the August ballot.
The visits by President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to market JP and to dish various goodies have left tongues wagging.
Mr Joho, who has engaged Mr Kenyatta in a shouting match before, is seen as a key Nasa kingpin in the region.
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