The government has banned nighttime boda boda taxi operations along the Kenyan borders with Somalia and Ethiopia with immediate effect.
The directive affects boda boda operators at border areas of Marsabit, Garissa, Wajir,Mandera, Lamu, Tana River and Turkana counties who will henceforth not be allowed to operate after 6pm. It is meant to address terrorism and drug trafficking to enhance security.
In a media brief Wednesday evening following a joint two-day deliberations by top security agents from North Eastern and Eastern regions held in Marsabit, Eastern Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru said drug trafficking was being used to fund terror activities.
Mr Nakoru who was accompanied by his North Eastern counterpart Nic Ndalana, said boda boda operators are used to ferry narcotics especially bhang whose proceeds are used to finance acts of terrorism.
“We have established that trafficking in narcotics is funding terror activity with boda bodas being used to ferry the drugs across the borders through panya routes,” he said and added that three suspects have been arrested and 30 kilograms of bhang netted in the last two days.
The Regional Commissioner said that the action taken was a government collective decision adding that boda boda operators were also being used to transport terrorists across borders and within the country so that they could escape police checks.
“There will be no boda boda operations between 6pm and 6am from today and I urge the operators to cooperate because there are no two ways about it,” Nakoru said.
Mr Nakoru who was flanked by Eastern regional police commander Paul Soi, Marsabit County Commissioner Evans Achoki and local police commander Steve Oloo directed that inspections at police road blocks would be enhanced.
The regional commissioner called for cooperation from bus and other PSV operators to support the initiative by the government by ensuring that only genuine passengers and cargo are ferried in their vehicles.
He warned that any transporter found engaging in activities that contravene set security regulations would be treated as accomplices and punished heavily.
At the same time North Eastern regional commissioner Nic Ndalana directed police not to let any bus in the region to operate without security escort in order to safeguard lives.
Confirming a highway bandit attack on a bus at Sarman area in Mandera County in which three people were killed and two injured by suspected Al-shabaab militants, Mr Ndalana warned that bus SACCOs will have their licenses revoked if they ferried passengers without police escort.
The regional commissioner disclosed that the bus that was headed to Nairobi from Mandera became a soft target for the 11-armed militants who were riding on motorcycles because it was not escorted by security personel.
Mr Ndalana said security agents were on high alert adding that their quick response saved the rest of the passengers in the bus from being exterminated by the terrorists.
“I am directing that security officers should ensure that they escort PSV vehicles including buses,” he ordered adding that bus owners had the responsibility of ensuring that their vehicles do not move from one point to another without escort.
Mr Ndalana reiterated the government’s resolve to eliminate Al-Shabaab remnants in the region and urged residents to continue supporting the initiative.
By Sebastian Miriti