In a recent incident, police officers in the Lang’ata district of Nairobi had to resort to using tear gas to scatter a group of protesting workers. These workers had been hired on a contractual basis by the Nairobi County to manage and maintain the Lang’ata cemetery. The primary grievance aired by these workers was the non-payment of their wages for a period spanning five months, a timeframe throughout which they claim to have consistently fulfilled their assigned tasks.
These aggrieved workers organized a demonstration outside the entrance of the cemetery on a Wednesday morning. The nature of their protest took a more aggressive turn when they commenced burning tires in close proximity to the entrance of the Lang’ata police station. This act prompted a response from the local law enforcement authorities.
Monica Kimani, the sub-county police commander for Lang’ata, provided some clarity on the police’s decision to intervene. According to her, the escalating actions of the protesters, particularly the burning of tires near the police station, necessitated the deployment of tear gas to ensure public safety. Commander Kimani emphasized that the protesters should have chosen a more appropriate channel for airing their grievances, such as approaching the office of the Nairobi County Governor. She underscored the importance of preserving peace and order in the area.
In a defiant response, the workers have made it clear that their protest will continue, signaling their intent to keep the cemetery’s gates firmly shut. Their message to the public was direct and poignant: individuals intending to bury their loved ones should either wait or consider other burial options until the workers’ demands are met.
Following the dramatic events of the protest, Patrick Analo, the Nairobi County Secretary, addressed the media. He openly acknowledged and confirmed that the contractual workers, responsible for the upkeep of the Lang’ata cemetery, had indeed not received their wages. Analo pointed to bureaucratic delays associated with the county’s budgetary cycle as the primary reason for this oversight.
He elaborated on the roles of these workers, stating, “About 77 laborers were employed at the cemetery approximately six months prior. Their primary duties involve general maintenance and enhancement of the cemetery’s appearance.” Expressing regret over the unfortunate situation, Analo continued, “I deeply apologize for the undue delay in their payments.”
In a bid to assuage concerns and possibly prevent further protests, the County Secretary revealed that the required processes for facilitating the overdue payments have been finalized. Moreover, he mentioned that the necessary funds have been both requested and approved. Analo gave assurances to the aggrieved workers and the general public that the salaries will be disbursed by the forthcoming week.
However, what remains troubling for many is the timing of the protest, which led to a temporary halt in burial services. Many families were distressed by the unexpected closure of the cemetery, especially when attempting to lay their loved ones to rest. The ongoing dispute between the Nairobi County administration and its contractual workers at the Lang’ata cemetery underscores the importance of timely wage disbursements and the broader implications such disputes can have on public services and sentiments.