Residents and leaders from West Pokot and Turkana Counties met at Lotong’ot area, which is along the border of the two Counties and celebrated the prevailing peace in the region after 50 years of conflict.
Hundreds of locals, political and government officials, and religious leaders from the North Rift Region attended the meeting, and they sang and danced together in jubilation.as elders assuring each over a firm cooperation to ensure that no conflict or animosity is going to be eliminated.
The leaders called on the government to roll out development activities along the border to maintain the existing peace and improve the lives of locals.
Eldoret Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir urged area residents to maintain peace in the region. “I am very happy about the unity of leaders and locals, which is a sign of maturity in the peace implementation process and shows many good things are yet to come in the future,” he said.
He urged the government to set up schools for children who were orphaned as a result of the conflicts and urged residents to use the available schools to access education which is a long-term solution to conflicts. “We want parents to ensure that children from both communities learn together,” he said.
Bishop Korir, like other leaders, challenged the national government as well the two counties to initiate developmental projects and assist the peace committees and elders by ensuring they continue to preach peace. “We now want projects in the area to uplift the life status of residents. We want residents in East Pokot also to emulate the same,” said Korir.
The Bishop urged the government to initiate irrigation projects along the border to help boost food production hence make sure conflict areas are safe. “The church will ensure that people are safe and stay as brothers and sisters,” he said.
West Pokot Deputy governor Titus Lotee asked the government to initiate health centers, schools, roads and water projects along the border as projects had stalled. “The government can’t come up with an excuse now saying that the two communities are fighting and they don’t want development, it should use 85% of the money that it has to initiate irrigation along the lower Turkwel.”
Lotee cited that residents have benefited from the fruits of peace as residents from both communities are engaged in businesses. “They are selling camels and doing other businesses together. Residents should freely move to other areas in the two counties to do business,” he said.
He urged residents to join Jubilee citing the party’s contribution to establishing of peace in the region. “We want the Turkana county government to be in government like the West Pokot county government. In the 24 years of Moi regime, and 10 years of the Kibaki government we never benefited and we have benefited during the time of Jubilee,” said Lotee.
The leaders urged locals to embrace education and live peacefully among themselves as the region has lagged behind due to the frequent fighting that led to the loss of many lives in the North rift region.
Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Ekai asked leaders from the two communities to avoid utterances that can incite people and affect unity, and he urged the government to arrest inciters. “We don’t want inciters who create animosity among residents. The greatest thing a leader can give to his people is peace. If you are not for peace please don’t come. The residents need peace after suffering for a long time,” said Ekai. “The elections are close and we don’t want residents to be cheated by leaders to create animosity,” he said.
He asked the government to release funds for the youth to start small businesses, which will ensure they are occupied, adding that measures should be taken to ensure they don’t go back to violent ways. “Guns going silent doesn’t mean they are not there. They can easily go back to the notorious vices because of lack of food and other necessities. The county and national governments have a challenge to help initiate projects in the area and help youths to start businesses. Peace is not complete if residents are not engaged,” he said.
Ekai urged the national government to fast track the construction of the Kitale–Lodwar highway road to help open up the area and link the two counties to other regions.
West Pokot county commissioner Wilson Wanyanga lauded the residents and leaders for their efforts to ensure peace prevails. “We thank leaders, from the President to area leaders, who have tried hard to initiate and establish peace,” said Wanyanga.
Wanyanga assured reformed warriors that the government will help and empower them. “The government has not forgotten you. We are putting measures in place to help you,” said Wanyanga.