Finance Bill Protests Gains Momentum Across Counties

Finance Bill Protests Gains Momentum Across Counties

Kenyans have staged fresh protests across the country again today, Thursday, against the controversial Finance Bill 2024. The bill that seeks to hike taxes has caused disharmony and fear across the country, amid the high cost-of-living crisis.

President William Ruto had agreed to make some amendments in his Parliamentary Group meeting at StateHouse on Tuesday but citizens want the whole bill scrapped. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters stormed the CBD and clashed with the police in the capital Nairobi.

The government has maintained that it will still go ahead with the tax hike and has defended the raise and called it necessary. Ruto’s cash-strapped government is looking to fill its coffers and reduce borrowing externally.

The Tuesday protests have sparked a string of other demonstrations across the counties. The streets across major towns like Kilifi, Machakos, and Nakuru are full of citizens donning branded t-shirts with “Reject Not Amend” and “Occupy Parliament”.

The two outfits that have been instrumental in lobbying citizens to strengthen the push. Many patriots have organized themselves on social media and grouped systematically on the ground to ensure a successful march for their rights. 

Protests in Mombasa

Live pictures and videos across the country, including the coastal city of Mombasa and lakeside, Kisumu,

There is a heavy authorities presence and roads leading to parliament buildings in Nairobi have been blocked. Police and GSU have been deployed and on high alert as lawmakers begin to debate the bill since yesterday.

An international journalist has been spotted nursing injuries after he was hit by a teargas canister. His colleagues rushed to his aid and escorted him to safety on the protests’ second day. Protesters have come in even bigger numbers to face off against the anti-riot police. Scenes around Nyayo House, Kimathi Street, Cardinal Otunga House, and Kipande Street are those of screaming chants, gunshots, and heavy smoke as the face-off continues. Businesses and banks remained locked with shops closed for the better part of the morning.

In Mombasa, the same scenarios were witnessed. Chaos and running battles have been the order of the day. Several people have been arrested and are in police custody. As others seek to get them released, others are on social media platforms chanting through the keyboards. Signages have been printed and displayed across the island with several local leaders and women on the forefront of the ongoing hassle. The human-rights-groups-led demos are outside the Coast Provincial Headquarters.

Protests in President Ruto’s Home County

Ruto’s hometown of Eldoret has not been spared. Thousands have flocked to the streets to put pressure on him to reject the bill that will worsen their livelihoods and businesses. Business was brought to a standstill as they poured in masses. No single account of teargas or police brutality has been reported or witnessed despite the heavy police presence. 

Finance Bill Protests Gains Momentum Across Counties
Protesters gathering in Eldoret Town/Photo Courtesy

In Kilifi, hundreds of protestors blocked parts of the Kilifi-Malindi highway as they moved from Pwani University gates to the County Headquarters. The crowd grew as others joined in including students and bodaboda riders. The organizers were dressed in all-black t-shirts, carrying placards and blowing whistles. They went to Huduma Centre and the Governor’s office to air their petition as they sang redemption songs.

In Kisumu, there were running battles with police at the Kondele roundabout. The demonstrators gained momentum as they passed through Kibuye market, Kisumu PGH, and eventually Kenyatta Sports Ground into the deserted CBD.