Two legislators from Kitui East and South constituencies are calling on the government to flush out Somali herdsmen who have encroached into the county in search of water and pasture.
Speaking after holding a closed-door security meeting with Kitui County Commissioner (CC), Samuel Kimiti on Wednesday, the legislators, Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East) and Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South) said women and children have fled homes for fear of attacks.
Mbai said that the herdsmen have taken over watering points in Mutha and Mutomo areas for their camels as locals trek kilometres away in search of the precious commodity.
“Majority Leader Aden Duale has been calling me to allow the camels to graze and drink water in the county following the prolonged dry spell in his area. I want to tell him that we shall not continue shouldering his burden,” charged the visibly agitated MP.
The soft-spoken legislator said that tension has gripped the area with locals fleeing their homes and called for swift security intervention to avert a catastrophe since many of the farmers cannot tend their farms ahead of the October-December rain season.
The Kitui East legislator said he will not be cowed by Duale’s threats as he ordered him to restrict his herders to stop crossing the Kitui border in search of pastures.
“We have agreed with the County Commissioner that the herders must be chased away to prevent clashes as Kambas are the most affected by the invasion,” said Mbai.
Nyamai urged the government to intervene and compensate the families who have lost their beloved through the clashes.
According to residents who have fled from some homes near the areas affected by conflicts, the herders, mostly from Tana River and Garissa counties often clash with the local community over pasture and water resources and cross back to their counties after committing crimes.
The residents appealed to the Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i to come to their rescue since the security officers in the area have been reluctant on driving the herders out.
The Mutha ward MCA, Anthony John who toured the affected families at Mutha said that he has already petitioned the county government of Kitui over the matter.
John called for the operationalisation of South Kitui game reserve in order to ensure that all herders living in the area are flushed out.
The MCA called for compensation since majority of families are living in abject poverty following the death of their loved ones and theft of their livestock among other socio-economic challenges they face.
Mbai described the latest attack as callous and called on the local security team to weed out the armed pastoralists. “We can negotiate over camels invading our farms but not when they kill and attack innocent mothers. They must leave,” Mbai said.
Over a month ago, the MP re-launched Nziu Ranch as a way of addressing the perennial banditry attacks along the porous border. The once vibrant ranching cooperative society collapsed in the 80s due to mismanagement.
The revival of the ranch, straddling about 100 square kilometres, heralds new hope for the local community that has for long engaged in a vicious conflict with their neighbours from Tana River and Garissa counties.
By Yobesh Onwong’a