Bus services suspended in Mandera over insecurity

Tuesday November 7 2017

Mandera

Some of the buses plying the Mandera-Nairobi route in Mandera. PHOTO | MANASEH OTISALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MANASE OTSIALO
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Bus services in Mandera County have been suspended for a period of three days following attack on a police escort on Monday evening.

Announcing the suspension, Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia said the move is meant to reorganise security escort for PSV buses within the county.

In the attack, two police vehicles were hit with rocket propelled grenades by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Mandera south. 

SECURITY

Twelve police officers who were escorting the bus escaped unhurt.

“Arising from the Monday attack, we have decided to suspend the movement of buses along the road as we assess the security situation,” Mr Shisia said.

He said consultations are underway with the bus operators and security supervisors in Nairobi to get a replacement of the burnt vehicles.

Mr Shisia also wants a replacement of aged police vehicles escorting the buses within the county.

“Once this is done we shall resume bus escort. We regret the incident and inconveniences caused but the passengers in Elwak town will be escorted to Mandera town,” he said.

The County Commissioner also said buses holed up in Wajir town coming into Mandera will be considered insisting that no bus will be allowed to leave Mandera for Nairobi until the situation improves.

ATTACK

Normally, buses leaving Mandera town at about 8am are escorted by police to Gari area where their Elwak counterparts takeover as Mandera police return with buses from Elwak.

From Gari, the Elwak police officers escort the buses from Mandera town through Wargadud, Elwak, Dabacity to Katulo.

Mr Shisia said the officers drawn from Elwak were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militants in Dabacity on Monday evening and two of security vehicles were burnt.

According to Mr Shisia, members of public in the area had shared information with the security on presence of militants.

“Our officers disembarked from the vehicles after members of public reported citing militants in the area and this is how lives were saved,” he said.

However, Mandera Bus Association chairman Mohamed Bardad, dismissed the move to suspend bus travel in the county.

“We have mortgage to pay and suspending the business will hurt us. The government has a responsibility to provide security to everyone and it has to fulfill that,” said Mr Bardad.

The bus association chairman said the ban has unconvinced many of their customers wanting to travel to Nairobi.

“There are many people travelling for December holidays and halting bus services is interfering with their programme,” said Mr Bardad.

Among bus companies plying the Mandera-Nairobi route and affected with the suspension include Makkah, E-Coach, Tawakal, Desert Cruiser and Medina.