Glimmer of hope as schools resume learning in Laikipia

A boy carrying firewood at Ol-Moran area and on the right are the remains of a house that was burnt down during the recent skirmishes at Kisii Ndogo village in Ol Moran area in Laikipia County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Learning in schools within Ol Moran, Laikipia West, is expected to resume today as operation to flush out bandits intensifies within the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

Police have so far cleared most temporary and illegal structures within the conservancy even as some of areas remain notorious hideouts for bandits.

An uneasy calm was restored in Ol Moran and the surrounding villages, with the government announcing that it had tripled the number of police officers deployed in the area.

Yesterday, The Standard team joined the officers in the operation and established that the bandits had fled the settlement areas.

Aerial images and videos the team obtained during the operation show illegal herders within the conservancy had been pushed towards Baringo County.

The images show herds of livestock being guarded by armed herders. As drones fly closer, the bandits can be seen scampering and taking cover below the canopy of thick bushes.

Some of the bandits could be seen throwing stones as others tried to shoot at the drones before retreating to their hideouts.

Laikipia West Sub County Director of Education Josephine Thuranira said the chaos had affected learning in nearly 25 schools in the operation area.

“Learning has been paralysed in 16 out of 21 primary schools and one out of four secondary schools in Ol Moran Ward. We have communicated to the teachers who had moved out of the area to return and facilitate learning starting today,” said Thuranira.

This, however, is expected to face hurdles as some of the parents had relocated to far-flung areas for safety.

Those who remained, however, said they were ready to take back their children if total security is guaranteed at school and along the way.

On Saturday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who toured the area announced that schools will be put on full-time guard of police officers.

“The learners and teachers will be escorted to and from school to ensure they are not ambushed along the way. We have tripled the number of police officers in the area,” said Matiang’i.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i inspects a razed house at Kisii Ndogo village in Ol Moran. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Speaking at the St Mark Catholic Church Ol Moran, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi urged the families to send their children to school, saying security had been enhanced.

“We must return to normalcy. As we plan for people to return to their homes, let us start with schools. The government will provide security to learners and teachers at school and along the way,” said Ndiritu.

While praising the government and well-wishers for their support, Father Giacomo Basso said that the situation was regrettable and does not reflect the picture of the life Kenyans want.

“We don’t want to see people in camps and queueing for relief food. All we want is to see people in their homes and producing their own food, doing business in peace. That is not a favour or a miracle. It is what we deserve,” said Fr Basso.

Fr Basso said the situation was enslaving Kenyans who, over five decades of independence, are yet to enjoy the freedom and its benefits.

“We don’t want to bury our people before their days on this world are over. The government has to do more to ensure it doesn’t burden the people with the responsibility to protect themselves,” said Basso.

Meanwhile, residents of Tiaty Sub County have called on the government to exercise caution as they flush out bandits who may have taken cover among them within Kaptuya and Tebelekwa areas. Several houses were allegedly burnt down last week by unknown people which has forced residents to flee to safer parts of Baringo County.

The attack, which the locals claim might be a security operation, has disrupted Cherumbo, Kaptuya, and Tebelekwo primary schools located in an area that has for the past six days experienced heavy shooting.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, however, distanced security officers from the alleged operation saying the said areas were not part of the ongoing operation.

He added that the Laikipia security operation was being done within the confines of the law to ensure innocent people don’t die or lose property in the process. 

“We are committed to ensuring no innocent people are affected by the operation. We are doing our best to ensure peace is restored in Laikipia and Baringo in the shortest time possible,” said Natembeya.