State to establish buffer zones on borders of Isiolo with four counties

Geoffrey Omoding

Isiolo County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding. He said the government will establish buffer zones along Isiolo border points to end runaway insecurity in the region.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

The government is to establish security buffer zones along Isiolo’s borders with six counties to deal with runaway insecurity that has claimed dozens of lives in the last few months.

Competition for water and pasture, proliferation of illegal firearms, land disputes and political intrigues are among the causes of conflicts between Isiolo residents and those of neighbouring Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Meru, Laikipia and Marsabit counties.

Sources say the state is concerned about incessant bandit attacks from the Samburu side cited by local leaders and residents, who have claimed that security organs are not doing enough to stop them.

Some Isiolo MCAs last week accused the government of laxity, saying criminals who raid, kill and steal livestock are never arrested and stolen animals are not recovered, threatening pastoralism.

Officers from the General Service Unit (GSU) and Rapid Deployment Unit will be deployed to the buffer zones in the hotspot areas, said Isiolo County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said.

“The no-go zones will ensure a security response distance in preventing attacks and protecting natural resources,” Mr Omoding said.

He said Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua will spearhead peace meetings between Isiolo and neighbouring counties, especially Samburu, to promote collaborative security responses to insecurity.

Local security teams have accused the Samburu security team of failing to cooperate with them in efforts to recover stolen livestock reportedly driven into that county, saying this had made it difficult to recover over 30, 000 animals stolen.

Before the buffer zones are established, Mr Omoding said, the government will recruit more National Police Reservists to supplement the efforts of regular police.

Isiolo is vetting 90 more NPRs to join 130 others recruited months ago who will be spread across Isiolo, Garbatulla and Merti sub-counties.

“Our target is to have at least 1,000 NPRs across the county to ensure all the areas are covered,” Mr Omoding said, adding that the previously recruited police reservists had helped stem insecurity.

There have been concerns that there are not enough police officers to cover the vast county that occupies 25,336 square kilometres, with local leaders calling for more deployments to troubled areas.

Mr Omoding said NPRs will work closely with community conservancies for fast reporting of bandit attacks and response to them.

Asking pastoralist communities to live in hamlets for easier response to security threats, he said the county government had promised to offer stipends to NPRs.

With the drought in Isiolo worsening, residents fear more attacks.

They appealed to the government to provide adequate security, especially in grazing fields and at watering points.

Abdi Buke, an elderly resident, was on Monday this week hacked by bandits at Kambi Samaki in Garbatulla while grazing his 250 goats.

The assailants were suspected to have come from neighbouring Garissa County.

The criminals beat him up and slashed him with an axe in the head before walking away with the animals, leaving him for dead as he bled profusely. He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.

Residents and leaders have also said the government had failed to ensure that declarations and agreements made between communities, especially on sharing of resources, are strictly followed.

Mr Omoding warned chiefs who fail to work with their counterparts in neighbouring counties to arrest suspects and recover stolen animals.
 

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