Insecurity and the current drought situation in the county took centre stage during the Mashujaa day celebrations held at Moi gardens in Lodwar.
The event which went up to 6 pm, was characterized by accusations and counter-accusations over the current wave of insecurity which according to Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai had claimed 43 souls in Turkana East sub-county alone since July 2021 to date.
“Any operation to flush out bandits in the North Rift should include financiers of cattle rustling and politicians instigating violence. I will continue to call out known rabble-rousers who have carved out a career inciting violence. We will not engage in peace talks with these inciters, as they cannot offer solutions to a problem they have caused and continue to benefit from,” said the governor.
President William Ruto has directed the national security agencies to deal decisively with banditry. There is an ongoing security operation along the borders of Turkana, West Pokot and Baringo counties.
County Commissioner Muthama Wambua said five firearms had been recovered so far in the ongoing operation.
Lomorukai expressed confidence in the resolve of the government to end this menace and beef up security in the region saying so far 90 National police reservists have been deployed to Turkana East.
He said the county has set aside sh 47 million to establish new resettlement schemes and renovation of existing schemes to meet reasonable standards.
New schemes planned include: Urum and Lodwat in Lokiriama/Lorengippi; Namadi in Letea; Nasinyono in Songot; Napeitom in Turkana East; Kalomwae in Kaputir; and Koolok in Katilia. Existing schemes have also been earmarked for facelifts and renovation to improve the security of the beneficiaries and their properties.
“In addition to this, we will set aside sh100 Million in the supplementary budget for a resettlement programme in areas of Turkana East. It is our goal to resettle residents of Kamuge and Napeitom who have been displaced from their homes by bandits,” said the governor.
With regard to international relations, the governor said he was committed to strengthening cross-border peace with neighboring Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Since taking office, the governor said he has held engagements with government representatives from the three countries through delegations that attended his inauguration. “Our core duty as governments in the region is to leverage on the peace, strengthen cross-border peace, boost trade and invest in livelihood development,” he said.
With regards to drought, the governor said the severe effects of climate change conditions call for the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices.
He said his administration has set aside Sh300 million in this financial year to provide humanitarian relief assistance to cushion vulnerable communities against the effects of drought.
“The county will invest in model drip irrigation technology by utilizing groundwater sources in parts of the county. We have allocated Sh114.9million for the construction of new drip irrigation schemes in Lokamarinyang, Kangitulae, Lokumae, Kokuro, Songot, Karugumen, Nameguro, Loborot, Lobei and Loupwala in Kalapata,” he said.
The current drought situation in Turkana is at alarming stage and on a worsening trend.
The governor said his administration has rolled out an emergency response to support families hit by the drought.
He said the county government has procured 2,464 metric tonnes of food commodities consisting of 37,000 bags of maize of 50kgs each, 10, 280 bags of beans of 50kgs each and 7008 20-litreJeri cans of cooking oilfor the 2021/2022 financial year.
County Commissioner Muthama Wambua said the national and county governments would work together in relief food distributions.
Wambua regretted that the high costs of transportation of relief food was denying residents their benefits adding that the government was considering purchasing food from the county to save on transportation costs.
“The cost of transportation is almost equal to the cost of food purchased. This is very uneconomical, we are considering purchasing food from the county to save on transport costs,’” remarked the county commissioner.
Other issues raised include water shortage where the governor said he had directed the ministry to address water issues in an ongoing 100 days’ rapid results initiative.
The emergence of criminal gangs in Lodwar town and Kanamkemer ward was also raised with leaders demanding action from security officers.
Other leaders who addressed the celebrations were speaker of the county assembly Christopher Nakuleu, Turkana county women representative Cecilia Ngitit and MCAs.
By Peter Gitonga