Kenyan President urges traders to 'break the law'

Speaking at Kongowea market, Mombasa County's largest open-air market Mr. Kenyatta told traders not to pay taxes.

President Kenyatta on Monday publicly urged traders to 'break the law'.

“This market was built by money from the national government. It was built for the traders and not for an individual. We will investigate and see if it’s not being used well,” the President said.

“Do not pay until you get services. I am asking police officers here not to be used to harass and arrest the traders who will not pay the taxes,” he added.

Kongowea market was renovated by the national government at a cost of Sh320 million and opened by both Mombasa governor Hassan Joho and President Kenyatta on different dates early this year.

However, following the implementation of devolved governance in 2013, its management passed over to the Mombasa County government.

Critiques of Mr. Kenyatta would therefore accused him interfering with the County government of Mombasa affairs which depends on the market to collect revenues contrary to the spirit of the constitution which calls for respect and independence of the two levels of governments.

Mombasa residents also pay taxes to the national government and therefore by government renovating the market is  a right and not a favor.

Mr. Kenyatta, who is on a three-day tour of the coast that began Sunday further directed that those found harassing traders should be arrested, creating a fertile ground for clashes between the national government and County government.

“County askaris should leave you alone. This market was built through funds from the national government,” he said.

Kenyatta added that the National Youth Service (NYS) will be deployed starting next week to clean the market.

Kongowea market is the main source of fresh produce in the County and hosts sellers of tomatoes, cereals, fruits, second-hand clothes, shoes, bags, miraa, electronics and other merchandise from as far as Tanzania.

Mombasa County and national government have clashed before and Mombasa Governor frequently clashes with the President over development projects at the coast, accusing the national government of riding on county programmes to gain popularity.

Last week, Joho was detained at Nyali Police station for close to four hours by the police over claims of trespassing while protesting land grabbing in the area.

This is after the governor stormed the police station demanding the release of 10 county inspectorate officers who were arrested while conducting demolitions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was flanked by his deputy William Ruto and Nyali MP Mohamed Ali.

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