Why West Pokot residents are angry with CS Kindiki

West Pokot residents accuse CS Kindiki of failing to rehabilitate schools destroyed by bandits

A government promise to rebuild and reopen schools destroyed by bandits in West Pokot County remains unfulfilled more than five months later.

The promise was made by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and his Defence counterpart Aden Duale following a wave of insecurity in which bandits destroyed facilities in institutions across the North Rift region.

At least seven schools that have been closed in recent years remain closed to learners, while bandits continue to carry out raids in West Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet border areas.

When Kindiki visited Sarmach and Chesegon areas in West Pokot County in June, he said the government had allocated Sh100 million to rehabilitate learning infrastructure in schools such as Cheptulel Boys and Girls, Samplomoi, Cheratek, Kases, Apollo and Takaiywa primary schools. 

Other schools that were to be supported to return to normalcy were Kissa, Ptoh, Kases, Takaywa, Lonyanyalem and Pough primary Schools.

The CS had indicated that the schools would be rehabilitated and reopened by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) with support from National Youth Service (NYS) officers, and that more teachers would be recruited and deployed to ensure that learning fully resumed and continued uninterrupted.

West Pokot County Director of Education Simon Wamae confirmed that schools that were due to reopen remained closed, while County Commissioner Apollo Okello said the programme was being handled in Nairobi.

The CS had also ordered the establishment of the Lami Nyeupe (formerly Lami Nyeusi) General Service Unit (GSU) camp in Sigor Constituency and seven new divisions and other administrative units, namely Chepkobhegh, Kodich, Sekerr, Masol, Kaptabuk, Miskwony and Endough divisions, although these have yet to be gazetted.

Residents and leaders are now questioning the delay in sending funds to rebuild schools so that they can reopen.

"Many schools around Cheptulel area in Lomut, Pokot Central, Pokot South and North and along the border areas of West Pokot and Turkana are still closed and many learners are still at home," said Abel Lokwete, a concerned resident, calling on Prof Kindiki to speed up the process.

He said there was a need to put in place the right infrastructure in schools, equip them and start a school feeding programme along the border areas.

"The less privileged yearn for education. We need inter-community and inter-county business and barter and people to marry. Students need books and other learning materials and schools need security, water and food," he said, urging the CS to speed up the process of gazetting the new divisions and security camps as promised. 

"We need services closer to the people, security roads and a good network for security teams to respond quickly to attacks. The district administration has already distributed bulldozers for the security camps," he said.

Tapach district MCA Samuel Korinyang Timtim said more schools in the area were at risk of closure.

"Schools like Kapushen, Stonu and Kamelei primary and secondary schools have been affected by insecurity. We don't want schools to be closed. The government should protect Kenyans," he said.

Other schools affected by insecurity along the Kenya-Uganda border are Katikomor, Lomanyiro and Kanyerus. Turkwel Gorge Secondary School was closed indefinitely last week after students from the Pokot and Turkana communities clashed.

West Pokot Senator Julius Murgor called on the government to speed up the process.

"Some schools in Chesegon have not opened. Pupils also need food. We still have insecurity and children cannot stay in school," he said.