A charcoal trader today escaped death by a whisker after an irate gang of youths flushed him out of his Toyota Probox car and set it ablaze.
The man who was not immediately identified was ferrying about 10 bags of charcoal allegedly from Ngomeni area when he was stopped by the irate gang in Mwingi town demanding to see his permits.
When the crowd became rowdy, the man jumped off the vehicle and took off. As soon as he fled, the vehicle was set on fire choking the nearby businesses with thick plumes of smoke.
Businesses in section of the town was brought at a standstill as a huge crowd gathered to witness the the fire as the vehicle was reduced to a shell, about 2km from Mwingi police station.
Mwingi Central OCPD John Nyamu said investigations into the incident had commenced and promised to get to the root of the matter.
The crowd which seemed to get back at the county government’s ban on charcoal, exchanged bitter words with police accusing them of being complacent in charcoal trade.
A month ago, a lorry loaded with charcoal bags was burnt at Kanyonyoo area, a few weeks after the county government imposed a ban on charcoal and sand harvesting trade.
Following the burning of the lorry, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) summoned Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu over allegations of inciting youth to destroy private property.
Elsewhere, three county officers among them County Executive in charge of Environment John Makau are facing charges at an Embu Court in connection with torching of the lorry.
Ngilu however has vowed not to relent on the fight against charcoal production and transportation, saying the ban which came into effect on January 16 will not be lifted despite protests from charcoal traders, mainly drawn from Kitui County.
“We are not turning back in this fight against charcoal trade. It does not matter who is protesting or issuing threats. Let them find other places to destroy environment but not Kitui County,” Ngilu stated on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony at South Eastern Kenya University.
She further said any moves to intimidate her through government institutions such as the NCIC and DCI will not cow her.