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West Pokot residents laud govt for deploying KDF

Residents of Kamele and Kapushen areas in Pokot South Sub County have expressed their appreciation to the government for deploying Kenyan Defence Forces to address their security concerns.

The residents noted that the presence of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has significantly contributed to the restoration of peace and stability in the region.

During a consultative peace and security meeting held in Kamele shopping centre, Pokot South Sub County Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) David Boen confirmed that the KDF had surveyed the Kamalogon Forest in preparation for an operation to flush out bandits and address security concerns in the border counties.

He said that as a result, the regions of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot County have experienced improved security and stability, even before the KDF commences major operations in the area.

The administrator stated that Kamalogon Forest has been the hideout for criminals who have been terrorising the residents, and the KDF officers are presently deployed in the area with the objective of apprehending and eliminating the criminals from the forest.

DCC Boen stated that KDF is currently conducting patrols in Kamele and Kapushen villages, as well as areas within Tapach ward and Elgeyo Markwet County, as part of their efforts to combat cattle rustling and uphold peace in the regions affected by banditry.

He urged any innocent individuals residing in the forest to evacuate prior to the commencement of the KDF operation.

DCC Boen said that the region has encountered numerous instances of conflict, banditry, and cattle rustling activities, but the current state of affairs indicates that the situation has been effectively managed.

He further elaborated that the region has been subjected to frequent episodes of attacks, theft of livestock, and loss of life perpetrated by the bandits, who have been instilling fear among the residents both during daytime hours and under the cover of darkness.

”The Kenya Defence Forces and other multi-agency security teams are conducting patrols both during the day and at night, with the firm determination to prevent any loss of innocent lives or property at the hands of the bandits. Comprehensive measures have been implemented to put an end to the long-standing pattern of frequent attacks that the region has endured for several decades,” DCC Boen said.

The DCC said some parts of the region had become a no-go zone for residents due to the criminal activities, but residents were now able to access those areas and even have their livestock graze in areas they most feared for their lives and property.

DCC Boen said the deployment of the KDF was prompted by the persistent and widespread insecurity issues that the region had been grappling with for an extended period.

”The decision to deploy KDF was made in response to the impassionate pleas of the local residents, who expressed deep concerns regarding the prevailing state of insecurity within their communities,” he explained.

”The multi-agency security team, comprising KDF, has intensified patrols along the Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot County borders and at Kamalogon Forest in a move to flush out bandits,” DCC said.

He said the government intended to disarm locals in possession of illegal firearms, strongly encouraging those in possession to willingly surrender them prior to being forcibly disarmed.

He urged both the local residents and leaders to collaborate in order to promote peace and reinstate tranquility within their area, adding that the operation would continue until complete normalcy was restored to the region. He, however, also urged the parents to take their children to school without fear of insecurity.

Josephine Jepsera, a resident of Kamele village, said they were now able to sleep peacefully within their residences, in contrast to the periods prior to the deployment of the KDF to address the issue of insecurity.

She further expressed that prior to the deployment, a prevailing sentiment had emerged among them, suggesting that the government had forsaken their security concerns.

”Bandits used to terrorise us, and we were forced to sleep outside our houses for our safety in fear of the bandits’ attacks,” Jepsera said.

She expounded that the locals had limited hours during the day to attend to their domestic affairs, such as agriculture, while at night they were compelled to seek shelter in areas that were deemed secure.

Robert Kelan, a teacher at Kaleme Secondary School, observed that the unrest in the region due to banditry had displaced and adversely impacted learning in many schools.

Kelan thanked the government for enhancing the security measures in schools and their environs.

He acknowledged the multi-agency security team for their efforts to restore normalcy and tranquility in the area, saying students who had previously left school due to insecurity concerns had resumed their studies.

West Pokot County Executive Committee Member for Public Works, Transport, and Roads, Mr. Joshua Ruto, said the county government, in collaboration with the national government, is currently engaged in the construction of a road connecting Tangul-Komologon and Amani Road, which is a vital link between West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties.

He said once the road is constructed, the area will be accessible, and this will contribute to the efforts in the fight against cattle rustling.

He said West Pokot Governor Simon Kacahapin is committed to supporting the security initiatives being carried out by the national government security agencies in both counties.

By Anthony Melly

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