For several years now, the porous Kenya-Somalia border has officially remained closed. The aim of the closure was to address a myriad issues key among them terrorism and movement of contraband goods.
But it is disheartening to note that the closure of the official 29 border points did not yield the desired results.
Unofficial border points are still in operation and truckloads of illegal cooking oil, milk, rice and sugar still find their way into Kenya on a regular basis.
Shockingly, besides the illicit trade negatively affecting our farmers and local industries and denying the government much-needed revenue, it funds the terrorist activities.
This is because these goods are taxed in Al Shabaab-controlled territories and therefore funds the activities of the terror group which continues to maim and kill with abandon not only in Somalia but also in Kenya.
In other words, by unwittingly buying contraband goods from Somalia, Kenyans have been strengthening Al Shabaab’s power to attack them. This is the last thing that peace-loving Kenyans would willingly do.
That is why the flow of these goods must be brought to a halt. That is why the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to security agencies in North Eastern Kenya to crackdown on the illegal business should be implemented swiftly.
As noted by the two leaders, if the war against terrorism is to be won, the illegal trade must be brought to an end.
To compound matters, the contraband supply chain is also used as a conduit for smuggling and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country that are feeding into urban crime and cattle rustling.
But for the crackdown on the illegal trade to succeed, we urge the government to take action against Kenyan officials who might be supporting this business for their own selfish gains.
It is highly unlikely that contrabands have been finding their way into the country without the knowledge and blessings of some officials in North Eastern.
Such elements, if any, must be arrested and punished for betraying their motherland for thirty pieces of silver.
In fact, such a noble mission would be doomed if such tainted people are charged with the task. Besides that we expect the government to take the war to the door steps of other sponsors of terrorism, including by ensuring they are listed internationally to paralyse their operations and businesses.
Security agencies must also target those who recruit gullible youths for terror groups and step up operations to flush out terrorists and flatten sleeper cells across the country. We must deny Al Shabaab and other terror groups the oxygen to thrive by fighting them and their sponsors relentlessly from all corners.
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