Once a battlefield, Kainuk town now a booming business centre

Stretch of Kainuk town in Turkana County. [Rashid Lorogoi, Standard]

Kainuk town in Turkana South lies at the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties. For years, it has been known as a battlefield between the Pokot and Turkana communities.

For motorists and travellers plying the Kitale-Lodwar highway, crossing Kainuk bridge was a dreaded affair as bandits staged sporadic attacks that claimed lives and left many innocent people with injuries.

Today, however, Kainuk is bustling with life. Business is booming, thanks to prevailing peace in the region - a transit point for travellers on the Kitale-Lodwar-South Sudan route.

Over the past one year, local residents have coexisted peacefully, with no conflicts that had threatened the harmony between Pokot and Turkana communities.

Sarah Chebet, the manager of Safari Plaza Hotel in Kainuk, told The Standard the return of peace had impacted positively on business because travellers spend time at the border town before setting out to Lodwar and Kitale.

“We are getting more customers, especially travellers as opposed to those days when there was no peace between the Pokot and Turkana communities,” said Chebet.

Chebet noted the peace has also attracted new investors to Kainuk.

Streetlights line a section of Kainuk town in Turkana County. [Rashid Lorogoi, Standard]

The two communities have been fighting for many years due to border disputes, and over pasture and water.

The return of peace, the ongoing construction of Kitale-Lodwar highway and the ensuing coexistence have cemented the bond between the two communities and enhanced trade.

“The installation of street lights in the town has seen longer operational hours and enhanced business. Investors are currently upgrading hospitality facilities where entrepreneurs, government and officials from other organisations can stay as they traverse the region,” Chebet added.

Ekirimet Longor, a village elder, welcomed the peaceful coexistence, saying residents and visitors are enjoying a conducive business environment as a result.

“Turkana and Pokot communities are now grazing their animals together and sharing resources without fighting one another. The guns have gone silent and given way to harmonious coexistence between the two communities,” Longor explained.

Longor said in the past people could not access their farms because of insecurity. “Peace is a significant component of development, and this is why the government should enhance all activities geared towards upholding it,” Longor added.

According to Deputy County Commissioner Turkana South sub-county Silvano Mbiuki, the two communities have been sharing resources and trading for the last year.

“If someone loses an animal, the two communities become responsible for looking for that animal, and that has strengthened their relationship. We want everyone to be involved in promoting peace including politicians,” Mbiuki said.

He said they were planning to have a peace meeting before the end of the year at Kaptir location that will bring together all kraal leaders from Pokot and Turkana communities to encourage integration and resettlement.

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