Nakuru Players officials arrested amidst tenant disagreements

Barbushe Maina being interviewed by the media at the Nakuru Players Theatre during a past event

Trouble is brewing at the newly renovated Nakuru Players Theatre after four of the officials led by the interim Chairman Joseph ‘Babushe’ Maina were arrested today and cooling their feet at the central Police Station at the behest of the new bar owner at the facility Isaac Karanja.

The officials include the treasurer Gordon Obange and other committee members Mappet Abwajo, Marcus Demo and George Odak.

The five have been accused for causing disturbance at the theatre and have been denied police bail for reasons best none to the police.

Nakuru Govenor Kinuthia Mbugua inspecting the renovation of Nakuru Players Theatre last year. Photo Courtesy

This is despite the fact that Babushe and Obange were not at the theatre during an alleged disturbance at the theatre.

“I went to the police station today and I came with them to identify people I think are idlers at the theater,” said Isaac Karanja the owner of T.O.T (Talk of The Town) bar at the theater who admits calling the police to intervene on an incident that allegedly happened last Sunday.

According to a veteran thespian and former chairman of the Theatre Collins Oduor, a member of the interim committee that currently runs the business at the theatre, tried to stop Karanja client from parking in the theatre lawns, something that did not go down well with the proprietor.

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“The member questioned the rationale of vehicles parking in the lawn yet there is a policy to keep of grass since the lawns are used for events such as weddings,” said Mr. Oduor who has been a member at the theatre for the last two decades.

But the incident was just a tip of the iceberg of what is bedeviling the theatre today.

Speaking to different players including thespians and the bar owners who are only two months old at the theatre, there is a dispute over the establishment of the TOT bar at the theatre.

Whist the immediate former committee quietly engaged Mr. Karanja and entered into a lease lasting three years starting 2015.

So, technically the lease should end next year as long as the tenant sticks to the terms of the lease agreement.

“The bar (TOT) is in breach of the contract and that’s why we wrote a letter in May that they vacate the premise in a month after we decided to terminate the contracts,” says Abdul Fatahou, the Secretary of the interim Committee and also the Secretary of the Outgoing Committee.

According to Abdul TOT varied the architectural and interior design structures of the facility against the laid down rules per the lease agreement.

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“They are supposed to have left by June 2, this year and all they are doing right now is staying in the premise illegally,” said Abdul who signed the lease agreement together with other Executive Committee members.

The involvement of Abdul in the writing of the eviction letter is telling given the tenant claims not to recognize the interim committee whose members are in police cells at his behest and whom he calls ‘idlers’.

Things have turned their heads at the theatre with two policemen reported to have interrupted and stopped a rehearsal by another thespian Eric Wanyama with 12 actors at the theatre.

The two policemen were in the company of Karanja and his lawyer Steve Kabita who admitted being present during the raid.

“We are going to rein them in court tomorrow. That’s my instructions form my client,” said Mr Kabita who argues his clients has invested millions of shillings in the business and pays Sh 30,000 per month as rent.

The county government of Nakuru has found itself in the mix by claiming the decision to dissolve the earlier committee led by Francis Gachau was not legit given they were not involved.

This is through a letter allegedly by the County Director of Culture, Alice Gekonde.

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But Abdul dismisses this saying the County government is overstaying its welcome since their participation indecision making was limited to the renovation period and not in the running of the affairs of the theatre.

“They were only suppos4ed to be involved when the renovation was going on since they made the financial support for the innovation,” he say.

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