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Molo residents torch 15 trailers after two die in accident

By Caroline Chebet | Published Wed, March 1st 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 1st 2017 at 08:21 GMT +3
Machinery belonging to Nakuru-based Comply Industries Limited that were torched following an accident that killed two people. [PHOTO: MOSES KIPSANG/STANDARD]

Angry Marioshioni residents set on fire trailers estimated to be worth Sh160 million as they protested at the death of a motorcyclist and his passenger.

Mr Rodas Kibet, an eyewitness, said the rider was trying to overtake a trailer at Marioshioni on the road to Elburgon when he was crushed by another lorry that was coming from the opposite direction.

"The drivers escaped unscathed but the rider and his passenger died on the spot," Kibet said. One of the trailers was ferrying logs from Kiptunga Forest.

Local residents protested at the death of the two, a local pastor, Robert Ranoi, and the rider, David Leharash, by burning 15 vehicles belonging to Comply Industries Limited.

County police boss Hassan Barua said: "Although police officers were at the scene, they were overwhelmed by the angry residents, who burnt the two vehicles and afterwards headed to Kiptunga Forest and torched 13 others."

The residents also burnt loaders, a Land Cruiser, and the logs that the trailers were carrying. They looted equipment, including power saws.

"We are investigating the matter and those found to have been involved in the destruction of the company's property will face the law," Barua said, adding that officers had the names of several suspects. 

Comply Industries Limited operations manager Stephen Kihumba said his company may have lost more than Sh160 million and accused local politicians of inciting residents. 

"This should never have happened because the company has always maintained a good relationship with the local community," Kihumba said.

"Local leaders should have talked to us in case there was a problem, which we would have resolved through dialogue, instead of inciting residents to destroy company property," he added.

Area MCA Agnes Salimu termed the incident as unfortunate. She said residents were unhappy after the company allegedly refused to offer them jobs.

"We have established there is more to the burning of the vehicles than meets the eye. The people are also angry at the Kenya Forest Service's refusal to renew their logging licences," Mrs Salimu said. 

Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Towett said tension has been high in the area since July last year when residents' logging licences expired and were not renewed.

Kihumba said his company has been involved in community projects, including maintaining roads. However, residents dismissed this, saying the company was only repairing the roads for its own benefit.