By Mohamed Haji
Over the years but more so recently, the streets of Eastleigh have been abuzz with night terror, young goons on the loose robbing people of valuables and heightened generalized insecurity mainly between the streets of 3rd and 7th of the economic hub of Nairobi County.
Young boys code-named ‘Super Power’ allegedly rob passersby of smart phones and other valuables sometimes at knife point. Their attacks are reportedly increasing both in number and intensity instilling fear in area residents who report fear of venturing out after 7pm. This is expected to further tension in the area, reduce traffic flow hence reduced business activities. This may have the domino effect of spreading to other parts of the district, suck in other youth from the area, develop into a turf war and further into a complex organized crime syndicate that authorities may find more difficult to contain.
Residents and leaders of Eastleigh must be commended for keeping the peace, despite the years of neglect, dilapidated roads and sewerage system and the decade-old economic suppression of the district. For many years and indeed before the coming of the current Kamukunji MP, the residents of Eastleigh have been on their own dealing with overflowing sewage, decrepit roads and zero amenities. Over the years local government has been collecting rates both, legally and otherwise, but has failed to plough back these revenues to repair its roads and sewerage system and develop the district. This is expected to change with the able elected leadership and engaged involvement of the residents. Over the last few years a lot of activities and achievements have been realized.
While commercial entities have been doing brisk business they have neglected to invest in socio-economic programmes that cater for social cohesion particularly integration of the youth and creation of useful amenities for their engagement. Businesses have done little to focus on the youth and unemployment in the area.
The combined absence of social programmes to engage the youth, the run-away unemployment which is the highest in the county and the dereliction of duty by successive local governments has borne the ‘Super Power’ menace. Young boys with plenty of time on their hands, probably no accommodation and zero money left in their pockets, coalescence around groupings such as the Super Power. These are young boys who have fallen on hard times and are probably doing drugs. They seek refuge and comradeship in this groups and look to them as families. It is desperation that drives them into these groups and group-think and hunger prods them to rob.
They need our help as much as muscular intervention. The stick-only approach may not work as they need rehabilitation, engagement and encouragement to save them from a life of desolation and crime. They will require counseling, probably setting up trauma healing workshops. An uphill task but urgently required. It is in the interest of all residents and visitors that members of such groups are brought back into the mainstream before situations escalate. It is a no-brainer a criminal mastermind has a ready pool of recruits that could be used to commit more heinous crimes. Their existence is not only a threat to the peace and stability of the residents of Eastleigh but to the whole country.
Groups such as Peace & Awarenes Youth Group (PAYG) who are commendably punching above their weight must be supported by leaders, businesses, government and most importantly by all residents. Residents must work with elected leaders, parents who suspect their sons of involvement in these crimes must seek assistance and inform elected leaders, PAYG and community elders. Its collaboration like this and collective concerted effort by all residents and visitors we can promote peace and safe our sons.