Traders in Machakos town were tear-gassed and dispersed by the police as they marched to the office of Machakos County Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua to present a petition against recently introduced high taxes.

And the County Finance executive Elizabeth Nzioka dismissed the demonstrations as political. She claimed the taxes had not been raised taxes but harmonized.

The angry traders were led by Machakos Chamber of Commerce chairman Simon Kioko, members of Machakos County Assembly Stephen Muthuka (Ndalani and Cornelius Kitheka (Machakos Central).

Earlier, they had been addressed by the estranged Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala at Mulu Mutisya Gardens who told them that he had not seen the new Finance Act. Because of this, Mr. Kiala had advised the traders to take their petition to the governor himself.

Doubled Taxes

The traders’ anger was provoked by the “doubling” of trade taxes including business permits by the county government.

“Parking fee used to be Sh50, it’s now Sh100,” Mr. Kitheka said. “Sand transporters are being asked to pay Sh70,000 up from Sh21,000. Single business permits have been raised by almost double the initial amounts. We will not accept this by all means.”

The MCAs said no trader should pay the new rates until their demands were addressed by county leaders.

Dr. Mutua, who is regarded by his political party Wiper as a rebel, has shown little tolerance with his critics in the County. He is the only Governor who has frequently used police force to silence people opposed to his policies, although he continues to claim he is popular.

In a recent TV discussion programme, nearly all those who participated criticized his policies saying there was no development in the County. Only  a few said they would vote him back.