One morning in 2016, Maina, a trader, was woken up by loud knocks on the door of his one-roomed house in Mai Mahiu town, Nakuru County.
Alarmed and still groggy from sleep, he stumbled to the door only to be met by two plainclothes detectives who bundled him into a waiting saloon car without offering an explanation for his rude awakening and arrest.
What would follow was a day-long ordeal of intense interrogation that he says left him scarred for life and informed his decision to flee the town, never to return.
But why would detectives waste their time on a small-time trader like Maina? Acting on a tip-off, they wanted to know the source of the cooking oil he stocked in his small shop.
Apparently, the oil had been stolen from a relief food truck headed to South Sudan.
And what is worse, the truck driver had “overturned” the truck and claimed that most of the products he was ferrying had been stolen in the process.
“This is a business (theft of goods on transit) that has made a lot of people millionaires. There’s a sophisticated racket that would go to any lengths to protect it. Woe unto you if you’re caught in the crossfire,” said Maina in a cautionary tone.? Though Maina was found innocent, explaining that he was a victim of purchasing the product from the “wrong supplier,” his story sheds light on a criminal network operating on key Kenyan highways.
Trucks are waylaid and goods stolen sometimes through collusion between the bandits and the drivers.
Drivers who are not part of such sleazy enterprises are easily killed if they resist.