Four people were arrested for causing chaos during peaceful-cum-violent protests at Rodi Kopany trading centre in Homa Bay Town constituency.
Police arrested the suspects after they allegedly confronted people who were demonstrating at the market on Thursday evening along Homa Bay – Rongo road.
Three youths were injured during the protests and were rushed to the nearby hospital for medical attention. Two of the injured persons were later released.
Traders who were members of the community took to the streets to protest against the plan by the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to divert the road from Arujo to Imbo-Rata through Ogande to allow for the expansion of Kabunde Airstrip.
The diversion is approximately six kilometres.
Homa Bay County Police Commander Samson Kiine said they arrested suspected people who caused fracas during the protests.
Chaos erupted when the protesters staged demonstrations in the Rodi town market.
Kiine said his officers intervened by dispersing both protesters and those who were unhappy with the demonstrations.
He said they have launched investigations to establish the cause of the fracas.
“The four suspects were arrested to assist us in undertaking investigations and know what caused the chaos. They are linked to the chaos that saw some protesters get injured and being taken to hospital,” Kiine said.
Protesters Victor Ochieng and Hesborn Odhiambo called on the police to speed up investigations and charge those who caused injuries to peaceful demonstrators.
Ochieng accused the arrested suspects of trying to gag them from expressing their right to hold peaceful demonstrations.
“Youths should not allow themselves to be used and thwart a good cause. It’s a right to hold peaceful demos and police should ensure violators are arrested and charged,” Ochieng said.
Traders Jane Atieno and Charles Otigo said the demonstration was a way of showing their dissatisfaction with what the KeNHA and KAA were planning to do without their involvement.
Atieno argued that diverting the road would affect their business.
“Many of us rely on travelling customers and I’m sure that we’ll not get them should the road get diverted and fail to pass through Rodi Kopany,” Atieno said.
Otigo called on the elected leaders to come up and help them address the matter.
He argued that there is a need for public participation so that the affected land owners will be compensated.
“We welcome such development projects as a community but what worries us is that we’ve been approached to have a common agreement. Let our elected leaders together with the relevant ministry engage the community before the project kicks off,” Otigo said.
They vowed never to relent from demonstrations until they were given a listening ear.