More than 500 people affected by Kerio unrest; schools closed along Pokot, Marakwet border

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo

More than 500 people have migrated from the troubled Kerio valley area and other unsafe places and more than ten schools closed along the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border following fresh banditry attacks and cattle rustling activities.

The most affected areas are Kapyego, Kamulogon, Tapach, Embobut, and Kerio valley. For the past one week, tension and destabilizing peace have been witnessed in the area, the latest incident being the killing of General Service Unit officer.

It has now been revealed the bandits are now raiding villages stealing livestock which are sold in trading centres that are far away as they continue to wreak havoc for their own personal gain.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos who met to deliberate on ways to end the insecurity incidents at Sirwo area in Trans-Nzoia County condemned the incidents calling on residents from both communities who have fled the area to go back to their homes.

They said cattle rustling has been a tradition among the Pokot and Marakwet communities for decades but the tradition has now twisted and has become a commercial business.

The duo faulted the security personnel working in the area for sleeping on the job. “The Security team staying at Kamelei Dispensary are doing nothing, they fear and you may think that they are sick. We have no space for criminals. We need to sit down and dialogue and get a lasting solution,” said Lonyangapuo.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo (left) and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos (right)
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo (left) and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos (right)

He said the economy of the area has been affected and there is a need to set up General Service Unit and Anti Stock Theft Camp along the border of the two Counties. “There are no security officers patrolling in the area. This is the most productive area in the region and a lot of farm produce is just untouched in the area,” he said.

He cautioned youths from both Counties over misusing the social media by inciting locals and writing inflammatory statements.

Tolgos pointed out that there is evidence of M-Pesa messages, where the bandits sell the cows and get cash through their phones hence asked police officers to thoroughly do their investigation and put cattle rustling into a halt.

“We are in talks to end this menace because we collect a lot of revenue in this area. Pokots have moved more than 5 kilometres away while Marakwets have moved more than ten kilometres away,” he said.

Tolgos faulted the government for moving residents from Embobut area without having proper plans as the area have remained a home for criminal gangs .

He called on the security apparatus to arrest criminals causing mayhem in the area. “Security officers don’t even have occurrence books.” Governor Tolgos warned Criminals saying their days are numbered for criminals.

He said that affected families are in need of food, shelter and drugs hence need for the government to budget funds for the affected areas.