Musa Radoli @PeopleDailyKe
Running an alcoholic drinks outlet is never an easy thing. Besides dealing with a bunch of the highly unpredictable drunks, there is the small matter of the cops.
Law enforcers are supposed to be just that, but in Nairobi, bar owners have come to know a side of them akin to the outlawed Mungiki sect. The group of police officers raids bars, licensed busaa clubs and even illegal chang’aa dens, collecting ‘protection money’ from the helpless patrons.
Our investigations established that the monies extorted from the owners and managers of the pubs are a standing order that they must comply with without fail. With unrivalled levels of impunity, police officers drive to the joints in official GK vehicles, in complete uniform and armed with guns.
They collect their ‘dues’ unfazed by the prying eyes of the revellers before moving on to the next joint. Our investigations further established that the gangs of rogue police officers operate in most parts of the city’s residential estates, especially those which are densely populated.
The worst hit areas are Dagoretti, Satellite, Uthiru, Kawangware, Kibera, Langata, Ngara, Pangani, Parklands, Eastleigh, Mathare, Huruma, Kasarani, Kamukunji and the sprawling Eastlands estates.
“They come in droves of two to four, one after the other throughout the operating hours, day and night,” said Gregory Kariuki, a bar manager in Ngara. He says they demand between Sh400 and Sh2,000 from each drinking outfit and let their monetary demand known in advance.
All victims interviewed had the same thing to say: “We are helpless and can do nothing but to part with the money. Otherwise as individuals and business entities, we will be in serious trouble.”
Mama Mary Awino, a busaa club operator in Kawangware said: “These police gangs are ruthless and do not want to hear whether you made any money or not. They want the money and if you don’t part with it, they will destroy you. We are their slaves.”
The units seem untouchable and will not spare anybody attempting to get in their way as they execute their nefarious operations. However, Police Spokesman Charles Owino says the police headquarters is not aware of these gangs since there have been no reports or public complaints on the same.
“This is a serious matter that we are going to look into with discerning eyes with a view of taking appropriate disciplinary and legal action against any officer who is found to be involved,” he said on phone.