Govt accused for not containing the Pokot -Turkana conflict
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Residents of Sarmach in Pokot area moving away from their homes after the security operation done in the area created fear in them. Photos/Leonard Wamalwa.
TURKANA COUNTY: Tension is mounting in parts of Pokot and Turkana with a spate of criminal activities being experienced almost on a daily basis on each side of the communities living in the area.
Killings of people, stealing of livestock especially goats has become the order of the day, confrontations between security forces deployed in the area among other activities have brought about mixed reactions among the Pokot and Turkana communities with the security men left with little to do to save the situation.
Raids and ambushes in the area have become so rampant such that each day when you wake up you hear of a Pokot or Turkana Home guard killed or some cattle and goats have been recovered by Home guards after a raid in a particular village.
Each community is accusing the government claiming that it has taken sides with the opponents and thus each of them saying that they are marginalized and deserted as they accuse their neighboring opponents or rather enemies as they always address themselves for being the cause of the insecurity in the region.
Among the most recent series of events witnessed in the area is the killing of five road construction workers at Nakwamoru sub-location as they constructed the Lorogon-Nakwamoru road by people believed to be Pokot militiamen at 10.30 AM on Friday.
The five are believed to have been sprayed bullets by the militiamen as they were in a Land Cruiser vehicle and a Caterpillar during the early morning raid that claimed lives of innocent workers who were neither from the Turkana nor Pokot community.
It was later established that the members of the Pokot community were not happy with the construction of the road sponsored by the Turkana Constituency Development Funds which they claimed had an intention of opening up the region to make it easy for security officers to track and arrest Pokot militiamen.
Thus the killings were meant to scare the innocent workers who had come from other parts of the country not to continue working on the road that was within the security corridor between the two warring communities.
“How can CDF money from Turkana come to construct roads in our territory? They think we do not have our own CDF and other funds to construct roads here,” said one Pokot resident who sought anonymity.
Other incidents including the raiding and eventual recovery of calves in a village near Marich Pass area, the stealing of over unknown number of goats from either side of the communities.
Addressing journalists at the chief’s center in Kainuk market in Turkana South district members of the community bitterly accused the Kibaki government for not showing any commitment to ensure permanent solution to the insecurity in the area.
The Kainuk location chief's office where the meeting was held.
Led by Kainuk ward councilor Nicodemus Eguman, the residents who comprised majorly of youths and old women said the government has showed a lot of laxity in handling numerous issues embracing the community ranging from insecurity, poverty, hunger and unemployment among many other contentious issues.
“We want to be clearly told by the government whether we are part of the 42 tribes in the country or not so that we can start seeking services from wherever we belong because we have suffered a lot as the government seats back spectating and behaving like it is deaf,” said one Turkana youth.
They claimed that the government has given their neighbors from the Pokot community a lot of freedom and impunity that makes them execute regular attacks on the Turkana community and go unpunished hence threatened to act on their own unlawfully to defend their lives and property after the government proved its failure to accord them their constitutional rights.
They cited a number of attacks from the Pokot community that has seen their kinsmen and other government officers lose their lives with hundreds of animals stolen.
They have now announced a major demonstration to be staged from Monday in which all roads shall be broken and major bridges in the area brought down in a move to draw full attention from the coalition government.
“We shall block all roads in the entire Turkana County and no vehicles shall move whether belonging to government or private people because we no longer care what the repercussions shall be because we have had enough of the suffering. You members of the press be prepared to camp here for a long time even though when you come you will also leave your vehicles across there because you will not be able to cross the broken bridges,” they said in unison.
Members of the Pokot community have at the same time accused the government security officers for turning against them by beating, injuring and looting their property including livestock instead of providing security to them.
They told journalists at Sarmach village near Nasolot Hills that the security officers who comprised of GSU, regular police and Administration police officers mounted an operation on Wednesday that left many of them injured and others forced to flee their homes for fear of attacks.
Pokot residents speaking to journalists about they ordeal they were taken through by the security officers.
The officers were accused as having reduced themselves to be accomplices of the Turkana community claiming the operation was arranged at Kainuk town where senior administrators from Turkana South district were involved.
They said that the situation has created a lot of tension among the residents who can no longer go about their businesses and other domestic activities.
However some of their leaders later told journalists that the current dispute between them and the Turkana community is all about the boundary which the government should make clear where each of them reaches.
“We want the government to draw the boundaries clearly to ensure that none of us crosses to the neighbor’s territory. Security officers should be deployed along the border so that they bar people from either side crossing to do harm to their neighbors,” said one woman civic leader from the Pokot community.
When asked whether the land they fight for has any special value to them they said that it does not matter whether it is full of stones or sand but it is important to be known or identified with a specific group of people to avoid any conflict between them.
At the same time they noted that most of the warring groups are made up of unemployed people who have little or nothing to do hence are ever planning attacks on their opponents hence the government should initiate many economic projects to engage the residents in more development conscious activities.
They appealed for creation of more schools in the region to ensure the children from both communities access education that shall eventually transform their mind sets away from the perennial fights that have led to loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives and property destroyed or stolen.
The government was also urged to introduce irrigation programs in the region to have the residents be engaged in crop farming other than depending on livestock alone.