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Kerio Valley: ‘Poor network to blame for increased banditry’

Police officers patrol near Tuiyotich Primary School in Mochongoi, Baringo South, on March 12, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A security chief has cited poor telecommunication networks as a major challenge in the fight against banditry in Kerio Valley.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mr Maalim Mohamed said poor communication has hurt prompt response by multiagency security forces. He spoke during a tour of Kirima and Laikipia West Sub-Counties.

“The poor network is a major challenge in parts of Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo,” he said.

In past attacks, residents in the rural areas expressed frustration in reaching out to security teams during attacks as some have to cover long distances to find network connectivity.

Mr Mohamed called on communication service providers to help improve the situation. “Quick response is key to thwart and neutralise threats.”

The regional boss said the police are investigating claims that some government workers are facilitating the bandits.

“Our officers have fought off the criminals several times. The kind of sustained engagement with our well-trained and armed officers has raised eyebrows. The question is where the criminals are getting guns and bullets,” he said.

Mr Mohamed said in the past two months the security team has arrested 15 criminals and recovered five guns.

“The criminals have been charged with incitement, arson, illegal firearm possession, and malicious damage to property. We recovered two AK47s, two G3s and one M16,” he said.

Mr Mohamed said the government has conducted peace-building initiatives involving the communities to find lasting solutions to banditry.

Part of the effort includes digging trenches at strategic points near the expansive Laikipia Nature Conservancy (LNC), which the bandits use as a hideout after raids.

The multiagency team is digging trenches to create a buffer zone between the community and the criminals, with 21km out of the targeted 24km of the trench completed.

Although recovery of stolen livestock remains a challenge, police say flocks are often driven to LNC where they are held before being sold.