The prolonged dry season is pushing camel herders from Tana River into Kitui County in search of water and pasture, fueling fears of possible conflict over the scarce natural resources.
Confirming the intrusion along Mutha area in Kitui East constituency on Sunday, Kitui County Commissioner John Ondego said that police were on high alert to drive the camel herders back to their respective homes to avert clashes in the area.
“I am in constant communication with my counterpart in Tana River to constitute a team that will hold meetings with the herders to stick to their borders despite the harsh weather conditions that may tempt them cross over to Kitui in search of pasture and water for their camels,” said Ondego.
The County Commissioner said that the government cannot sit back at the back drop of any intrusion that could destabilize the peace the locals were enjoying in the area at the expense of camels’ need for pasture.
“I appeal to wananchi to remain calm as government agencies swing into action to ensure safe passage of any camels within our border back to Tana River County,” said the administrator.
Ondego reiterated the government’s resolve to maintain peace and peaceful coexistence amongst communities along the porous border of Kitui-Tana River counties.
“We will continue with flushing out herders who are grazing their camels inside Kitui South Game Reserve. This will help stop their influx and associated conflicts in Mutha,” said the County Commissioner.
Similarly, the government has mooted plans to dig a cutline between Tana River and Kitui Counties to reduce conflicts and incidents of insecurity.
Area governor Charity Ngilu said that in a bid to curb insecurity along the porous border, her administration would collaborate with the National Government and Tana River County to ensure a cutline is done running from Kandolongwe to Kaningo to clearly mark our border.
“Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i has assured us that the government will establish a permanent General Service Unit (GSU) contingent to patrol along the troubled border,” said the Governor.
Further, Ngilu said the GSU contingent would be mandated to mop illegal guns and restore security in the affected wards such as Ngomeni, Tseikuru, Nguni, Nuu, Endau-Malalani, Voo/ Kyamatu and Mutha.
According to a report tabled at the Kitui County Assembly in 2015 by Mwove Kinyala, the Chairperson of the Committee on Administration and Coordination of County Affairs, illegal herders from our neighbouring Counties Tana River and Garissa have consistently been invading Kitui County since the 1960s.
Kinyala said the bandits commonly known as shiftas as from the year 2000 to around 2008 started camouflaging themselves as herders and have since then illegally settled in some areas such as Mwanzele and Mutha among others.
“The illegal settlement of these shiftas has resulted in the damage and irrecoverable losses to area residents, repeated loss of lives, endless trauma and constant displacement of people,” he observed.
Kinyala said that the government abolished the illegal livestock markets within the boundary areas of Mwanzele and Yuku, adding that livestock traders from outside the county should use vehicle transport to ferry their animals to markets within Kitui County.
By Yobesh Onwong’a