The government has deployed more than 250 National Police Reservists in West Pokot County to man the borders especially areas affected by banditry. This is in addition to the existing force of 685 in the County who are expected to work with their colleagues across the County borders to enhance security.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony at Kapenguria police station, West Pokot police commandant Mathews Kuto said the 250 reservists have already been hired, trained and deployed in parts of West Pokot, Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo borders.
Kuto said the government will continue deploying more NPRs so as to boost security in other areas before the general elections. “We are hiring them through a clear process. We are not just giving uniforms to anyone. They are vetted, trained and given uniforms and they are answerable to officers in charge of police stations where they serve,” he said.
Kuto said those with the illegal weapons should have them registered before security teams move in to seize them and arrest the owners. He said the illegal guns are to blame for increased banditry in the region.
“The government can use any other means to get the guns forcefully if it wants. But we are just saying if you have such guns please have them registered so that we know how they are used,” he said.
Pokot Central Sub County commissioner Geoffrey Kithinji said the government was committed to dealing with insecurity in West Pokot County and chiefs along with other security officers must play their roles effectively.
West Pokot leaders, led by Governor Simon Kachapin, had asked the government to hire local reservists in the County who understand the region’s terrain to patrol and help security personnel in repulsing bandits. He said the State has followed relevant legal procedures in the recruitment.
He expressed concern over the stalled projects where contractors have pulled out citing insecurity. “Schools and other development projects have been shut down and even teachers and doctors have pulled out of the region because they can not work in an insecure environment,” said Kachapin.
He said the projects were aimed at developing the marginalized region and fight poverty and illiteracy but they can not be implemented due to insecurity. “If we cannot implement the projects then we will never be able to deal with banditry,” he said.
The county boss confirmed that banditry has affected many projects in the infrastructure, health, education and agriculture sectors.
He urged the media to report correctly on the insecurity situation citing blanket condemnation of the Pokot community.
Pokot South member or parliament David Pkossing asked politicians not to politicize the recruitment process of NPRs in the County.
“Let’s cool down political temperatures in the County, these police reservists will help us control crowds during campaign periods,” he added.
He said they are working closely with IG Joseph Boinnet to deal with the banditry problem and illegal guns.