Is Al-Shabaab collecting taxes on Kenyan soil?

Isiolo county governor Godana Doyo during the 2nd annual devolution conference, 2015. [PHOTO/Jacob Otieno/STANDARD]
Isiolo leaders have asked the Government to probe the identity of armed men who have erected more than 10 roadblocks to extort money from motorists along a 100km stretch between Garba-Tula and Modogashe townships.

Governor Godana Doyo, Isiolo South MP Abdullahi Banticha, Garba-Tula MCA Abdi Sora and his Modogashe counterpart Nura Bila said people from outside the county were manning the road linking Isiolo with Wajir.

The leaders spoke in Garba-Tula town during Madaraka Day celebrations, which were also attended by Deputy County Commissioner Jack Obuo and OCPD Paul Kiprono.

According to the leaders, the gunmen had set up at least 10 barriers between Garba-Tula and Modogashe where they charge every vehicle at least Sh3,000 per trip.

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Residents who spoke to The Standard in Garba-Tula said the armed men are foreigners, and its likely the money they collect ends up in Al-Shabaab's hands.

miraa vans

They target all vehicles but the most 'lucrative' according to the leaders are miraa vans transporting the commodity to North Eastern and southern Somalia.

Miraa is transported from Maua in Meru County to Kinna, Garba-Tula and Modogashe, Wajir and then Habaswein. The same route leads to Mandera.

From Modogashe, a second route branches through Shantabaq in Garissa County, Dadaab Refugee Camp and then to lower southern Somalia.

SEE ALSO :Car bomb kills eight near Somali parliament

Transporters ferrying essential goods to Wajir and Mandera and NGOs operating in the region are also targeted by the criminals.

On Monday, Isiolo leaders were categorical that armed men who had erected "toll stations" along the B9 road, affecting traffic flow.

''Those who have erected the barriers are not the so called bandits. This is very strange and we fear that the money they take is going to fund terrorism,'' said Bila.

''We have not been using the Garba-Tula-Modogashe route for the last three months. We want to know who are manning this key road,'' Mr Sora said.

Doyo called on the national government to take the matter seriously saying it was affecting security.

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''We have never had this kind of problem. This is a big problem that the national government must resolve,'' said the Governor.

A miraa dealer operating from Maua claimed he pays an average of Sh30,000 to the criminals per day.

Mr Obuo confirmed the existence of roadblocks where motorists must pay 'a certain fee' before moving on with their journey.

''We do not know of their identity yet. But we have had this problem for some time and we are dealing with it,'' said the administrator.

''We have done a lot of work including making arrests and killing some of them. But you can also help us to find out if they (the road blockers) are Al-Shabaab,'' said the officer.

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al shabaabkenyan taxesgarissaGovernor Godana Doyo