Leaders and residents in Laikipia County have called on the government to conduct a security operation in Laikipia West to weed out bandits.
While citing rampant cases of cattle rustling and banditry attacks as a thorny issue in the region, the leaders led by Laikipia Senator John Kinyua want the government to restore security in the area.
Mr Kinyua accused bandits, who are reportedly from the neighbouring Baringo County, of undermining peace initiatives and giving residents sleepless nights.
“Residents are tired of living in fear and want a lasting solution,” Mr Kinyua said.
Laikipia County Assembly leader of majority Peter Thomi blamed the government for failing to curb rising cases of insecurity.
Mr Thomi, who is also the ward representative for Githiga Ward which is among the most affected areas, said the government should focus on the volatile valley inside the Laikipia Nature Conservancy along the Laikipia–Baringo border which bandits use as hideouts, remove and prosecute them.
"Why is it that each time livestock is stolen, they are recovered with no bandits arrested? What kind of business is this? Is it a crime to obey the law and get licensed guns, if the government can't protect its people from those who own illegal guns?" Mr Thomi posed.
He said that the government has to come up with a lasting solution for peace in Laikipia West.
Mr Mwangi Nganga, a resident, regretted that the perennial raids had claimed the lives of residents and police officers.
A week ago, a police rservist was shot dead while trying to repulse bandits that had raided Wangwaci area. A police officer was also seriously wounded during the raid.
“The government should act as soon as possible because the suffering has become too much for us to bear. We live in great fear and anxiety on what will happen next,” added Ms Naomi Wangechi, another resident.
Laikipia West Deputy County Commissioner Hezron Nyamberi, while regretting that an operation was long overdue, said the government was determined to restore peace and sanity in the region.
He said that security forces have been sent to the restive area to pursue the raiders and also restore calm.
“Currently we have managed to restore peace and the volatile areas are calm now. Security forces have been deployed to beef up security,” said Mr Nyamberi.
In October last year Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya announced that the Government was preparing for a massive security operation in parts of Laikipia County that were prone cattle raids and banditry attacks.
However, three months later the security operation that the Regional Coordinator had said was also meant to mop up illegal guns in the neighboring counties of Baringo and Samburu where several people have been killed during cattle raids and hundreds of livestock stolen is yet to take effect.
Miteta, Wangwachi, Kamwenje, Matuiku villages in Laikipia West that lies along the Laikipia-Baringo border line where much of the violence is concentrated have been the most hit areas but Mr Natembeya said that the well planned operation was aimed at ending insecurity in the areas.
“We will not negotiate with criminals; we are going to talk to them in the language that they understand well. Those that will not heed to the call and surrender the guns should therefore brace themselves for consequences,” he warned then during a security meeting at Miteta area in Laikipia West.