The Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce report will be ready by September, the taskforce Vice Chairman (VC), Dr. Adams Oloo has said.
Addressing the press in Lodwar on Tuesday, Dr. Oloo said the taskforce has so far covered 29 counties and would be visiting Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet in the coming days as it seeks public opinion on the nine thematic areas identified by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former premier, Raila Odinga.
The VC said the taskforce would have visited all the counties by early June and have the report ready by September.
The team has been tasked to deal with nine thematic issues among them devolution, corruption, divisive elections, safety and security, rights and responsibilities and lack of national ethos.
According to Oloo, two areas that came out strongly from Turkana residents were security and devolution.
“The people of Turkana have put more premium on areas of safety and security both internal and external on how it should be enhanced by the government and how the community can be empowered to deal with insecurity,” he said.
Participants supported disarmament of the locals to arrest insecurity, saying illegal firearms among civilians have continued to fan insecurity.
However, there are those who opined that those people living along the international borders of Ethiopia and South Sudan should not be disarmed, saying it would make them vulnerable to armed foreigners who attack them.
The issue of devolution also came up strongly and the residents want the county to remain as it is and not be merged with any other.
Most participants during the meeting said devolution was a success but pointed out that corruption is threatening devolution.
“In the first few years of devolution, we saw a lot of early childhood education centres being constructed, health facilities and roads connecting the rural areas but with time this has reduced because of corruption,” said Francis Kerio from Turkana central sub county.
Kerio added that because of devolution, county residents feel part of Kenya unlike in the past where residents never felt part of the country.
Bishop Boniface Lokuruka called for establishment of social amenities along the borders of Turkana and West Pokot and Baringo to foster integration and peace.
He also called for funding of the peace committees to make them more effective. “We also need laws to integrate county and national government in peace building. The county government deals with peace building while security is left in the hands of the national government,” he said.
According to Joseph Achuka a resident of Turkana east, there is need to set up international peace days to foster peace. He also called for land resource mapping to avert conflicts over resources.
The residents also called for deployment of security officers along the borders to address insecurity.
Oloo dismissed claims that the taskforce has taken so long to conclude its work. “We started our work in October and we have worked for just six months and covered 29 counties in addition to meeting with stakeholders in Nairobi,” he said.
He expressed optimism that it would be implemented, saying he has not heard the principals making any pronouncements indicating that it would not be done.
By Peter Gitonga