Senate security committee tours Kitui after locals, camel herders clash

Senate during one of the sessions. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Senate Committee on Security on Thursday visited restive Mutha ward in Kitui county on a fact-finding mission after two people were killed during a confrontation between local farmers and invading camel herders.

The committee chaired by Baringo Senator William Cheptumo and Kitui county security team toured parts of Mutha ward where they addressed locals and appealed for calm.

The team assured of a permanent solution to the incessant attacks occasioned by camel herders from the neighbouring Tana River County and parts of North Eastern region.

Addressing locals at Mutha trading center, the committee promised to push for the erection of an electric fence along South Kitui National Game Reserve to ward off camel herders, some of who are believed to be armed with illegal guns and other crude weapons.

Pastoralists from the neighbouring counties have been using the game reserve which stretches to the border with Tana River County and Tsavo East National Park as their hideout to sneak into Kitui county. Their presence has always caused conflicts leading to loss of lives and property.

The senators also promised to ensure that the police officers in the region are well facilitated in terms of patrol cars and fuel to enable them secure the porous border and respond to distress calls in time.

The committee members led by their host Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, came face to face with the camel herders inside the game reserve. Also present was Kitui county commissioner Erastus Mbui and county police commander Leah Kithei.

Victims of the conflict decried insecurity in the area and accused the police of allegedly being compromised by the herders. The irate locals claimed that on a number of occasions, police cars transport food and water to the herders hiding deep in the forests.

"The police have been reluctant in responding to our reports. We have recorded so many complaints at Mutha Police Station but no action has been taken," lamented Munyoki Mwangu, a local resident.

A week ago, a 30-year-old man was hacked to death by suspected camel herders days after his wife had been assaulted by the invaders. Another man was shot in the chest with the bullet exiting at the back.

This prompted the residents to storm Mutha Police Station and damage police cars before they were repulsed.

Senator Wambua expressed concern that the locals were running out of patience and were taking law into their own hands due to police inaction.

"The police in this area must wake up and do what they are required to do; which is to protect lives and property. There can never be an excuse for their inaction," he said.

On Sunday, President William Ruto directed administrators and police to stop the attacks along the porous border.

"You should not wait for a Cabinet minister to be appointed. This is a task within your capacity and you must deal with it," the Head of State said in Kitui town while attending a thanks giving event organized by Kitui Township Africa Inland Church.