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Maandamano Wednesday: What to do incase you run into demonstrators

Today, July 12, 2023, three demonstrations are taking center stage in Kenya. Employers and employees in the public transport service have withdrawn their vehicles from many Kenyan roads in protest of the retesting of drivers by the National Transport and Safety Authority.

Public Service Vehicle (PSVs) operator have also taken an issue with fitting of speed limiters that will limit speed, record speed data after every five seconds and transmit the data to both the NTSA and the speed limiter vendors in real time.

Hours to the commencement of the strike, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announced he had postponed the retesting to September 2023 but it appears not everyone got the news as some regions remain without PSVs on the roads.

A bonfire lit by demonstrators at Kamukunji ground in Kibera, Nairobi on July 12, 2023. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO

Also read: Maandamano and matatus strike keep Nairobians away from CBD – PHOTOS

Also on strike are taxi drivers who work with hailing apps. They announced a nationwide strike to have the government address their grievances, including the high cost of fuel, pay rates from the hailing app companies, traffic police intimidation and insecurity within the sector. They have warned all taxi drivers to keep off the roads or they would face the consequences.

The third group of demonstrators is the Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition supporters who are out on the streets to protest over the high cost of living.

A bonfire lit by demonstrators at Getare near Kisii town on July 12, 2023. PHOTO | RUTH MBULA

Azimio, led by Raila Odinga, have resumed its nationwide anti-government protests and signature collection exercise aimed at ‘stripping the government of legitimacy’.

Also read: Digital warfare – Inside Raila’s plot to ‘remove President Ruto from power’

The opposition coalition also opposed to increased taxes, which they allege is being forced the throats of Kenyans, as well as the recruitment of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission commissioners in light of the outcome of last year’s General Election.

A man lights up tyres on the road in Nyeri town to protest over the high cost of living in the country on July 12, 2023. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

This even as President William Ruto vowed to maintain peace and order while accusing the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, of plotting to sabotage his government.

And so you are likely to encounter one of these three groups of protesters today. Here is what you need to do in such an eventuality:

  1. Remain calm and composed. Think clearly before you make any decisions.
  2. Evaluate the environment in which you find yourself in and assess the level of danger you might be in. Keenly monitor the behaviour of the demonstrators, the presence of any law enforcement officers and the overall mood in the atmosphere.
  3. Your safety comes first. Move to a safe location away from the angry crowd and seek shelter in a nearby building until the situation is de-escalated.
  4. Do not engage the demonstrators. This can cause further tension and spike violence. Keep a respectful distance and non-confrontational attitude about yourself.
  5. If you have no where to run to, blend in with the demonstrators and try to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Do not provoke anyone or exhibit aggressiveness.
  6. If there is law enforcement in the area, follow their instructions to the letter. They will guide you on how to stay safe and help you move away from the demos.
  7. Monitor reliable sources of information for news or announcements regarding the demos. This will help you make a decision on which actions to take or which areas to avoid. Plan your exit route carefully.
  8. If you feel threatened and unsafe, immediately call for law enforcement for assistance. They are trained on how to handle demonstrators.

Also read: Maandamano? Akothee encounters angry mob in Kendu Bay