Govt installs mobile phone communication masts in terror-prone areas of Lamu

Tuesday March 29 2016

A man climbs a tree in Basuba, Lamu County as

A man climbs a tree in Basuba, Lamu County as he searches for mobile phone network. The government has completed erecting communication masts in the terror-prone to boost communication. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KALUME KAZUNGU
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The National Government has completed erecting communication masts in terror-prone areas of Lamu County to the relief of locals and security agencies.

The masts have specifically been located at Pandanguo, Mangai and the Bodhei Junction, all in Basuba Location in Lamu East Sub-County which has been under constant terror attacks from Al-Shabaab militia.

All the areas where the masts were erected are those in which the Linda Boni, a multi-agency security operation is ongoing, spearheaded by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers and other security agencies.

The operation, which is in its seventh month since it was launched, is meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding inside the expansive Boni Forest from where they launch terror attack on military and police vehicles as well as civilians.

OPERATION LINDA BONI

Speaking to the Nation by phone on Tuesday, Operation Linda Boni Director James ole Serian said the government decided to erect the communication masts in the three villages in order to boost communication in the region.

Since the introduction of the mobile phone communication in Kenya, the region has been without network access.

Locals and security agencies had previously complained of the poor communication network, a factor which was cited as being the reason why the militant group chose to particularly attack areas with poor communication.

Mr ole Serian said the masts were already working.

“The area, particularly the entire Basuba Location which seems to be the one being targeted by Al-Shabaab militants whenever they strike had no mobile phone network and this would hinder the locals’ efforts to effectively alert the security agencies whenever they spot suspicious individuals in their areas.

“As we know, the Operation Linda Boni also covers that area.

“In coordination with the various telecommunications companies we have erected three telephone masts at Pandanguo, Mangai and Bodhei. All are now working,” said Mr Serian.

He called on locals to take advantage of the availability of the network to alert the police or call for help whenever terrorists ambush the area.

Mr Serian said they will also fix more masts at Mararani and Milihoi in Mkunumbi.

“We want to end the long-term problem of poor communication network in those areas so that our security units and even locals get to communicate well,” added Mr Serian.

OFFICERS HAPPY

A few security officers who talked to the Nation on condition of anonymity said they were happy that at last the government has seen the need and erected the telephone masts.

Lack of proper communication network in the region had posed a great challenge to the various security agencies working in the region as it made it difficult to effectively coordinate movement.

“Lack of access to communication network was really frustrating our coordination.

“Locals too were unable to contact us whenever they spotted suspicious persons or situations that they wished to inform us about.

“We are happy that finally the problem has been resolved through fixing of those communication masts. Our work has been eased,” said one of the officers serving in the region.

Locals interviewed by the Nation on Tuesday said the move will greatly assist in fighting insecurity in the region.

Mr Aden Golja, who is the Pandanguo Village headman, lauded the government for the move, saying it has enabled them relay information to the relevant authorities for quick response.

“Al-Shabaab were targeting the areas without network. I am happy that we are now accessing the network after the erection of the masts.

“We can now easily contact security agencies whenever we spot suspicious persons or situations,” said Mr Golja.