Kirinyaga Road and part of downtown Nairobi were Saturday turned into a battle zone which left a Boda boda rider dead and a police officer fighting for his life at the Nairobi West Hospital.
There are two versions of the real cause of the chaos that degenerated into a free for all which made parts of the city roads inaccessible.
The most affected areas were Kirinyaga, Race Course and Kamukunji where the battle between the two sides raged for several hours.
According to multiple boda boda riders, trouble started at around 10 am when a 30 year Rabin Patel Ogeto was flagged down by a police officer on patrol for riding on the wrong side of Kirinyaga road.
"The officer stopped Ogeto and demanded a bribe. Ogeto said he did not have any money and an altercation started. The officer shot him dead," claimed Dennis Achieng, chairman, United Bodaboda Association, Nairobi.
After the shooting, enraged Boda boda riders gathered near the scene and started demonstrating to protest the shooting of their colleague whose body was lying lifeless in the middle of the road.
But the police have their version. Central Police Deputy OCPD, Dorris Kemey said the officer, Elijah Mutunga, 26 was in the company of his colleagues on patrol.
"The officers were walking but suddenly they heard a gunshot and realised they had left their colleague behind. He had been attacked by a mob of bodaboda riders. They rushed back to check on him only to find him lying on the ground forcing them to shoot in the air to disperse the mob." said Kemey.
According to the police, one of the protestors attempted to snatch a gun from the said officer but amid the ensuing melee, the rider was shot.
Kemey however admitted that it is not yet clear at what point the gun fired the fatal shot and the circumstances that led to the altercation and why the boda boda riders were assaulting Mutunga.
"The bodaboda rider was shot and unfortunately we lost him. The police officer was subjected to mob injustice. According to eyewitnesses, they started assaulting the police officer." the police boss said.
She added, “The police officer is admitted at Nairobi West hospital in critical condition, that is in the ICU. Nobody is indispensable when it comes to law. We are going to do thorough investigations.”
Kemey said the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has already sent all the agencies involved including IPOA and Internal Affairs Unit to investigate the matter.
She said if the officer would be found culpable he will face the law and warned the riders against taking the law into their hands.
A section of the boda bod riders claimed that there has been bad blood between them and the law enforcers who have been preying on them and demanding bribes.
The incident comes at a time, Nairobi Metropolitan Services has been trying to kick them out of the city amidst complaints by members of the public that some criminals were using motorcycles to terrorise them.
The chairman of Umberalla Bodaboda Association of Kenya Thomas Lesaatin said police need to be trained on how to deal with citizens as they have been using excessive force while dealing with perceived lawbreakers.
"We have played our part in reducing crime in parts of Kirinyaga Road. We are now asking police to do their part to ensure that the officer responsible for Ogeto's killing is apprehended," said the official.
Lesaatin said the association has issued a one-week ultimatum for the killer cop to be arrested and appropriate action taken.