Mr Abdi Hassan is the new Rift Valley regional commissioner, taking over from Mr Mohamed Maalim.
This follows sweeping changes affecting all eight regions by Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki on December 31.
Mr Maalim, who completed his one-year tour of duty in the region this month, and his seven other regional counterparts were recalled to the headquarters for redeployment.
“Mr Hassan is a capable administrator and I believe that he will do as much in addressing the region's challenges. He takes over today and there won’t be a vacuum,” he said.
It is a full in-tray for Mr Hassan who takes over when the government is battling banditry in the North Rift region that has seen several schools remain closed for months and some villages deserted.
“There is a lot to do and we shall give a way forward once I settle down,” said Mr Hassan, an administrator who has in the past served the region as a deputy county commissioner and a county commissioner.
His first biggest assignment will be to ensure security for residents of Kerio Valley belt as ordered by President Ruto ahead of the reopening of schools later this month.
It was when Dr Ruto toured Baringo on December 22 that he directed Mr Maalim and Regional Police Commander Tom Odero to ensure that all schools are re-opened.
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“I want all those schools re-opened in January. The regional commissioner, county commissioner and chiefs must camp in those schools immediately after Christmas to ensure they re-open,” he said.
The president regretted that schools had been badly affected by acts of banditry that had seen families displaced and scores of lives lost in sporadic attacks.
“Stock theft will have to end... It is not a request. It has to happen. These few bandits will be treated as criminals as they face the wrath of the government,” said Dr Ruto.
Following the directive, Maalim on December 29, 2022 led the regional multi-agency security committee in renewed efforts to restore order in Baringo South where five schools have been closed.
“Most families have begun moving back to their homes. The affected schools are under refurbishment and we are confident they will be ready before official re-opening of schools,” said Mr Maalim.
Despite intensified security operations, two minors were killed by bandits as they were herding their parents' livestock three days ago.
The incident in Ketut area of Marakwet East, which has received criticism, was linked to bandits from the neighbouring Tiaty Constituency of Baringo County.
“I am glad two men responsible for the attacks have been identified and their names handed over to the police. We are opposed to these primitive killings. As a community, we shall smoke them out,” said area MP William Kamket.
In addition to insecurity, Mr Hassan is expected to be at the centre of coordination of national government projects, especially those aimed at addressing climate change and its impact.
Rift Valley’s 14 counties are among those adversely affected by the worst drought in four decades and hosts Kenya’s main water tower, the Mau Forest complex.
As the chair of the regional implementation committee, all eyes will be on Hassan whose area of jurisdiction is President Ruto’s backyard where many development projects stalled under the previous regime.
Dozens of dams are among projects which the President has lined up to address perennial water shortage that has exposed millions of residents to drought and hunger.
The Mau Forest complex is facing logging and charcoal burning threats, which is likely to further degrade the capacity of various rivers.