Luos flee Naivasha over Saba Saba
ANXIOUS flower farm workers traumatised by the 2007 post-election mayhem have been fleeing Naivasha in droves, afraid that the much-publicised Saba Saba rally could spark violence in which there could be loss of life and property.
A large number of women and children have been packed off in buses, heading to the safety of Nyanza and the Western region as their men are left to monitor the situation in the lead-up to the Monday rally.
Worried mothers and children were yesterday boarding buses and ferrying their beds, mattresses, chairs and sofas, hoping to return after the Monday rally.
A number of politicians and administrators tried to assure the fleeing migrant workers that Naivasha was safe, but their reassurances fell on deaf ears.
One fleeing worker, Judy Odour, herself a victim of the 2007-08 post-poll violence, said the town was tense and that she would take no chances.
Her two babies were with her and their personal effects were piled up at the Naivasha bus stage. She said if chaos broke out, it would be the poor who would suffer as the rich would fly off to safer destinations.
“We are leaving this town as we fear that chaos could break out and the 2008 violence was an example to us. And we cannot stand by until Saba Saba Day,” she said.
Bus driver John Wainana admitted the number of families fleeing was rising, despite assurances by the Government that the town was peaceful. He said that many of those leaving are worried that the Saba Saba rally called by Cord would lead to violence across the country.
“In the last week, scores of families have fled Naivasha ahead of the Cord rally despite our assurances that Naivasha is safe,” he said. Trader Antony Kimani said that the exodus had ended up creating unnecessary anxiety and adversely affected business.
Kimani said that many houses on some estates were vacant as families had fled, adding that 2007-08 was a lesson for all of Naivasha, whose residents had vowed never to be victimised again.
The distribution of hate leaflets targeting people from Nyanza and Western three weeks ago and the subsequent failure by government to arrest any of the pamphleteers has not bolstered confidence among those who consider themselves possible targets of ethnic violence once again.
Speaking to the Star on the phone, Naivasha deputy county commissioner Silvano Mutembei said he had assured all residents that security was tight and there was no need to flee. “We have heard reports that people are fleeing in Naivasha, but we want to assure them that all is well and there is nothing to fear,” he said.