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Debunking the myths about Kapedo centre

The Turkana County Commissioner, Seif Matata explains the metamorphosis of the Kapedo conflict from pasture based conflict to boundary dispute. Photo by KNA.

On  October 31, 2014 the country woke up the sad news that officers 21 officers had been killed by armed bandits in Kapedo.

A few days later, a speaker at baraza attended by non-other than the President and commander in chief of the defense forces was forced to cut short his speech after he said that the attackers were not targeting police officers but members of a neighbouring community.

The small center rose to infamy and whenever it is mentioned gory images of slain bodies come to mind. Among the bones of contention is the location of the center; whether the center is in Turkana county or Baringo county.

In an interview with KNA, Turkana County Commissioner (CC), Seif Matata said the administrative maps shows that the area is in Turkana County. He added that administration officers from the chief to assistant county commissioner stationed at Kapedo report to Lodwar, the headquarters of Turkana County.

“The Chief of Kapedo and assistant county commissioner are under Turkana county administration,” said Matata. The MCA for Kapedo/Napeitom ward, Willy Nalimo also reports to Turkana county assembly where he represents his electorates.

However, the conflict between the Turkana and Pokot communities have continued for decades. Matata says the causes of the conflicts have changed over time.

“What began as a conflict for water and livestock for pasture has degenerated into a boundary conflict.Traditionally, the two communities were fighting over pasture and water at areas like Kasarani and Lokori. It later developed into cattle rustling,” said Matata.

The conflict metamorphosed with the discovery of other resources like diatomite, geothermal and other minerals which are believed to exist in the area. For example the area is home to Kapedo waterfalls which offers a serene view of the 150 meter waterfall sprouting warm water from the Silale Hills. It is said the water can treat skin conditions.

“All these resource based conflicts grew into the bigger issue which is the current boundary dispute,” says Matata. A number of cases of cattle rustling have been reported in the area as residents and leaders demand action from the national government.

The latest to demand action were Governor Josphat Nanok and Turkana South MP, James  Lomemen who condemned the killing of two people who were travelling in a truck from Lokori to Kapedo in Turkana east sub county late September.

The  leaders went further to demand the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Joseph Boinett. Boinett toured Turkana County last week where he assured the residents that the government was in control of the security situation in the county.

On his part, the CC said the cases of insecurity in the county have reduced drastically compared to the previous two years ago. He attributed this to the deployment of General Service Unit and Rapid deployment unit police officers to Kapedo, Lomelo and Lokori.

“We have also increased the number of national police reservists which has reduced raids,” said Matata. However, he said, there are still few attacks in the area but expressed his commitment to addressing them. “We have been able to pacify the area,” he added.

The main challenges according to him are the cases of banditry being reported on the Lodwar-Kitale highway. Police have so far arrested four suspects in connection with the highway robbery and they have been arraigned in court.

In the past, Turkana central MP, John Lodepe called for murder of those found guilty of highway robbery, saying they are sabotaging the economy of the county.

Turkana County largely depends on foodstuff and other materials like construction materials from Kitale.

By  Peter  Gitonga

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