Police officers in Malindi are holding a lorry driver and his loader for allegedly attempting to abduct two police officers on duty at the Sabaki Bridge roadblock on Wednesday evening.
The two were arrested following a 14-kilometre dramatic chase after the driver drove the vehicle off as the officers were inspecting suspected contraband goods inside the lorry.
The lorry was intercepted by bodaboda operators near Msabaha trading centre along the Malindi-Mombasa road, about 14 kilometres from the bridge after police failed to stop it despite firing gunshots in the air for the entire distance.
Witnesses said the officers manning the roadblock flagged down the vehicle to inspect the cargo inside, but when the officers entered the vehicle to check to goods, the driver drove off, leading to the dramatic chase.
To avoid a traffic jam in Malindi Town, the lorry driver used a bypass as police officers in a Land Cruiser shot in the air in a bid to scare him and force him to stop the vehicle. He blocked the road whenever the police van attempted to overtake and block the lorry.
The officers had to enlist the help of the motorcycle taxi operators, who pursued the lorry as others mobilized colleagues in Msabaha where the lorry was heading to.
When the lorry neared Msabaha, it was cornered by the motorcyclists, who pelted it with stones, smashing its windscreen and forcing the driver to veer off the road and stop.
One witness claimed the loader had a machete and attempted to attack the bodaboda riders, but he was overpowered and arrested alongside the driver.
Malindi Sub County Police Commander Vitalis Otieno confirmed the incident but could not give more details as the officers involved were from the neighbouring Magarini Sub County.
“It is true that the incident took place but my Magarini counterpart is at a better position to comment since the incident started in his area of jurisdiction,” he said.
The Magarini County Police Commander, Mr. Elisha Cherono referred journalists back to Mr. Otieno.
A bodaboda operator, Mr. Patrick Katana, who is among those who chased the lorry from the bridge to Msabaha, said he witnessed the officers stopping the lorry for inspection.
“Two officers then climbed the back of the lorry to check the goods, but the driver immediately started driving the lorry at high speed with the officers on board,” he said.
“Bodaboda riders decided to assist the police in pursuing the lorry with an attempt to rescue the officers as we did not know what the driver was up to,” he added
He said a few kilometers to Malindi Town, the lorry driver decided to use alternative routes ostensibly to avoid being caught up in traffic jams, and joined the Malindi-Mombasa road at Ngala stage.
A police roadblock at the Malindi Airport, which would have helped apprehend the driver, had been removed, and so the lorry driver comfortably passed as the police and bodaboda operators were on hot pursuit.
More bodaboda operators joined in the case as the others were being mobilized from the other side, leading to the arrest of the two, whose identities are yet to be revealed.
The lorry, registration number KCT 423 W was later driven to the Malindi Police Station where the two are being held.
KNA By Emmanuel Masha /Wellingtone Oketch