North Rift residents now want forcible disarmament of bandits

Vandalized classroom at Ngelecha Primary School in Baringo South, December 28, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Residents of the North Rift region want the government to forcibly disarm bandits to achieve peace.

Some of those who spoke to The Standard said that they were disappointed by the loss of lives to bandits along the Kerio Valley belt, even as the government “turns a blind eye”.

Ms Miriam Lolwatan of Mukutani challenged the government to compensate families whose kin were killed or injured during banditry raids. The mother of five expressed her worries, saying that if the situation continued to obtain, their marginalised community would continue diminishing.

“As a community, we are asking the government to come to our aid by ensuring that we are protected from these bandits, who continue to wreak havoc leaving us as paupers,” she said.

Mr Joshua Changwony, of Nyaratuko, opined that the government had neglected them.

Mr Changwony said it was paramount for the government to settle those displaced by bandits, who now live with relatives and others who are now squatters.

“We are farmers, but we can’t sustain ourselves due to the destruction left behind by the bandits, who killed and got away with our livestock without any repercussions on them,” he lamented.

He said that they feel neglected after the government failed to end the atrocities inflicted and even compensate them for their losses.

And to worsen the situation, Mr Changwony said, they now have to grapple with famine.

“The government should impose a shoot to kill order against these bandits. Why are human rights bodies not coming to our rescue but instead attack security agencies when they are doing their work,” he said.

He added that they needed a long lasting solution from the government in attaining peace and cohesion in the region.

Mr Changwony also blamed land adjudication as a factor fueling instability, and asked the government to aid in providing speedy solutions.

Mr Reuben Chepsongol, a former Member of County Assembly of Bartabwa Ward, has pointed fingers on the leadership of Tiaty, accusing them of not being part of the solution.

Mr Chepsongol, a former administrator before joining politics, said that forcible disarmament was the best tactic that the government should employ in achieving peace.

“Forcible disarmament should be applied and all illegal firearms removed from the hands of bandits,” he said. He called upon Tiaty leaders to hold meetings with their people in order to end the bloodshed.

In June last year, the government imposed a curfew and ordered an operation along the Kerio Valley belt, Tiaty being the focal point before it was lifted in August.