Leaders from North Rift region on Wednesday signed a historic deal at Chesegon Trading Centre in a bid to restore peace in the troubled Kerio Valley.
They made fresh commitments to ensure cattle rustling is brought to an end so that residents can enjoy peace.
Political and religious leaders from West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties signed the pact and resolved to end hostilities caused by banditry in Kerio Valley.
Leaders present included West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, MPs Peter Lochakapong (Sigor), Bowen Kangogo (Marakwet East) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret).
They agreed on immediate reopening of several public schools that have not been operating due to banditry.
Speaking during the reopening of Chesegon Trading Centre on the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border, which had been closed for over five years due to insecurity, the leaders read the resolutions after a seven-hour meeting.
Mr Lonyangapuo urged the national government to complete the tarmacking of Kamelei-Chesegon road and Kolowa-Lomut road that cut across the three volatile counties to allow security agencies to flush out bandits from their hideouts.
Mr Tolgos said the clashes paralysed the region's economy, adding that counties are looking forward to increased revenue from inter-community trade.
Mr Murkomen, who is also the Senate Majority Leader, added: “Banditry is to blame for food shortages in Kerio Valley and general under-development. We will not accept a turn back because we want our people to live in peace.”
He regretted that many families had been forced to flee from their homes in the region, abandoning fertile land that would have been used for food production.
“As we turn a new chapter of peace, we want our people to use the fertile land they have to produce adequate food,” Mr Murkomen said.
He said killings by bandits had affected innocent people, including Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination candidates at Tot Boarding and Mixed Secondary School in Marakwet East, three days earlier.
“The counties and national government need to start branding animals in this region as one effective way to end banditry because it will be easier to identify stolen animals from either side,” Mr Murkomen said.
Mr Kangogo and Mr Lochakapong said they would help in rehabilitation of youth who engage in banditry so that they can engage in other income-generating activities.
Mr Sudi said the national government should deploy adequate security to help deal with bandits who roam the Kerio Valley.
“Insecurity is a major problem that affects the entire region, and we ask communities to be committed to peace,” he said.
The political leaders agreed to hold a series of meetings to bring lasting peace. The Wednesday forum was a culmination of a month-long peace caravan.