Traders in insecurity-hit counties in the North Rift region have high hopes after Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announced plans to build a key road.
The CS on Sunday directed the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to begin the process of constructing the Chemolingot - Kapedo - Lokori road.
He asked the agency to work on the design of the road immediately so that they can source funds from development partners for financing the project.
“I am reaching out to the World Bank and the African Development Bank to finance the critical project. The road will not only link settlements in the banditry-prone areas but will also enhance security operations to flush out heavily armed raiders in the troubled Kerio Valley,” he said.
Mr Murkomen spoke when he officiated Turkana County's North Rift Football Peace Tournament finals held at Lodwar Mixed Primary School.
He said that Kerio Valley, which covers Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, is endowed with rich mineral deposits, arable land and a huge potential for livestock trade. However, the continued armed conflict due to the remoteness of the region has needlessly claimed many lives.
“As a leader from the region, I will prioritise the road project as part of the initiatives to tackle insecurity besides sports, education and peace forums,” he said.
Residents said that once the new road is built, it will open up the region for development and improve security.
They also said that the road should be extended to Lokichar town as accessing Lokori from Lokichar town is a risky affair since bandits roam freely. Nakukulas, Lopii, Lokwamosing, Katanamak and Ng'achuro villages often face frequent attacks by the bandits.
Villages across River Kerio such as Napeitom, Kamuge and Kapedo are sparsely populated and insecurity is rife. Many residents are unable to get food from nearby towns in Marigat in Baringo County and Lokori in Turkana for fear of attacks by highway bandits.
Mr James Ekaran, a resident of Turkana East, said whenever there are major activities in the area leaders and development partners are usually given security escort from Lokichar to Kapedo which is located 200 kilometres away. He said the journey through Lokwamosing, Lokori, Kamuge and Lomelo is torturous.
“Before Kapedo, bandits put stones on the road at strategic places where they waylay and attack people,” Mr Ekaran said.
He said the attackers as organised; they have a leadership structure, and they are well-armed and well-resourced with a steady supply of firearms. He said that bandits kill people indiscriminately including government officials and they also destroy government property.
Due to poor road network, bandits vandalise infrastructure like the office of Kapedo/Napeitom Ward Administrator where solar panels were removed and the water storage tank destroyed. Residents want the construction of the Kapedo Bridge to be prioritised.