Fear intensifies as Kerio cattle bandits continue to wreak havoc on villagers


Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan, commissioners from Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet County during a crisis security meeting with locals and peace elders at Tot ,Marakwet East.  [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

The number of those killed or injured by bandits in the Kerio Valley belt continues to rise despite fresh security measures to curb runaway insecurity.

The gun-wielding bandits remain unbowed, terrorising livestock keepers near police stations and military bases in Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties.

The effects of the recently issued shoot-to-kill orders, and deployment of military and elite police units in the troubled valley are yet to bear fruits.

Late last month, a video of a teary Sibilo Location Chief in Baringo North, Joseph Chemitei, narrating how he lost his goats and livelihood to the bandits showed there was still much to be done to restore sanity in the volatile area.

His Baringo North sub-county was among the most affected by the menace in Baringo County.

“It is a shame that I will be a beggar in retirement after working for years and proceeding on terminal leave as everything I had has been taken away by the bandits,” the chief is heard saying, fighting off tears.

Like Chemitei, elected leaders from counties such as Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana are a frustrated lot.

Governors from Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot on Tuesday claimed that the worsening insecurity in Kerio Valley was a well-oiled syndicate involving wealthy individuals.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wesley Rotich, Simon Kachapin (West Pokot) and Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo) fell short of naming an alleged cartel in the banditry menace.

They said they wanted a rogue individual involved in the region’s cattle theft syndicate arrested.

The governors claimed powerful individuals in the syndicate were well-known but no one was taking action against them.

The county chiefs have since launched mandatory livestock branding exercises aimed at identifying cattle to ease recovery after theft.

But they said it was frustrating that their peace efforts were unsuccessful in restoring calm in troubled Kerio Valley.

According to the governors, banditry continues unabated across the three counties because of failure by security agents to apprehend well-known masterminds.

The livestock branding, the governors said, was their last-ditch attempt to contain banditry in the volatile region.

“We ask the Ministry of Interior and Inspector General of Police to ensure that all criminals killing innocent people and sabotaging development are arrested, charged, and jailed,” Cheboi said.

A woman shot dead five days ago in Endo, Marakwet East is the latest victim of the bloodletting.

IG of Police Japheth Koome, who was in Baringo on Tuesday, ordered a crackdown on the bandits.