Kenya highway bandits

This item appears on page 18 of the January 2009 issue.

In Kenya, gangsters have been setting up roadblocks on highways, especially at night, and robbing passengers in matatus, shared taxi-vans that sometimes hold up to 14 people. The victims usually are not injured if they do not resist.

This is common in the North Eastern Province, Eastern Province, the northern part of Coast Province and the northern part of the Rift Valley Province. Highways of frequent attacks include those from Nairobi north to Nyeri, the Thika-Karatina area, the Kitale-Kapenguria highway and the route from Nakuru to the Ugandan border crossing at Malaba. There are about 10 hijackings per day in Nairobi! Many involve rival gangs fighting over control of the matatu industry.

Often the thugs pose as passengers, hijacking matatus en route, so now some of the public service vehicle operators, when departing after 5 p.m., first stop by the police station to have everyone frisked and the vans searched.

It is suggested that coastal resorts north of Malindi in the Coast Province be accessed by air travel.

Also, armed banditry has increased in or around some national parks, including Leshaba, Masai Mara and Samburu game reserves.