The government has intensified the war against contraband and smuggling of goods as part of a comprehensive strategy in countering the financing of terrorist activities.
Speaking during a high-level security meeting at the Government Guest House in Garissa, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the vice is hurting businesses in the country.
“This is not trade. It is fuelling deaths of Kenyans. Those who engage in it are Al-Shabaab’s foremost supporters and funders and will be handled like the terrorists,” he said.
Dr Matiang'i said the government will launch a security operation and enhance surveillance along Kenya’s borders to stop and deter the flow of illicit goods, services, and immigrants into the country.
The CS said that the multi-agency team will provide weekly updates to him for the necessary action and responses.
Dr Matiang'i warned that any government official found engaging in illicit trade will face severe disciplinary action.
"Any officer, either in the national or county governments, found tolerating or abetting cross-border smuggling of counterfeits will be held personally accountable,” he said.
SUPPRESS SHABAAB FUNDING
During this year’s National Security Review and Planning Conference in Mombasa, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed all security formations in the country to suppress all means by which Al-Shabaab militants are generating or receiving funds through Kenya, notably from illicit trade.
The government has already begun the progressive deployment of equipment and concurrent facilitation of training and education for the Border Patrol Unit of the Administration Police Service to increase collection of information and intelligence on criminal networks and complex smuggling rings.
Dr Matiang’i also restated the President’s directive on the implementation of the country’s counter-violent extremism initiatives.
He directed the national government administrative officers to step up engagements with the local leaders and leverage on cooperation and information sharing with civilians to effectively counter radicalisation and terrorist propaganda.
“Terrorists and their sympathisers have no place in Kenya. Once again, we will make no distinction between the two categories. Those who harbour terrorists will be treated the same way we treat terrorists,” the CS said.
He added: “The President expects us to be working from the ground and not issuing orders from Nairobi. We are going to be regular visitors. Don’t be scared to report terrorist operatives, radicalisers and recruiters. The government will protect you.”
The CS said it is unfortunate that Kenyans have lost their lives to terrorism and other terror-related activities.
Dr Matiang’i also warned that chiefs will be held responsible for not identifying recruiters, radicalisers and operatives within their areas.
He said chiefs and their assistants should operate from within their areas of jurisdiction.
“Those who do not comply with the directive within two weeks will be sacked,” he announced.
He also ordered the immediate reactivation of local peace committees and community outreach to complement the government’s security efforts.
At the same time, the CS said the national government has spent at least Sh15 billion on development projects in Garissa County.
The projects include the Kenya Defence Forces Modika army barracks, the 200-acre Holwadag irrigation project in Balambala, last mile electricity connectivity, Masalani water and sanitation project in Ijara, the building of Modika-Nuno Road traversing Fafi, Dadaab and Balambala, Masalani Level Four Hospital in Ijara and Garissa Level Five Hospital in Dujis among others.
Dr Matiang’i reiterated that the various projects in the county are a clear indication that President Kenyatta’s administration values inclusivity.
“All Kenyans are equal no matter which part of the country one is from and will be served with the same level of dignity,” Dr Matiang’i said.
National government officers were also directed to work closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure the realisation of the 100 per cent transition policy from primary to secondary schools as directed by the President.
“This is a compulsory and non-negotiable government policy and parents are encouraged to comply or face the consequences. Chiefs and assistant chiefs countrywide must move from door to door to ensure all 2019 KCPE candidates have reported to secondary schools as required,” said Dr Matiang'i.
Others who attended the Garissa meeting included Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, Deputy Inspector-General, APS, Noor Gabow, Regional Commissioner Musyoki Ndalana and Governors Ali Roba (Mandera) and Ali Korane (Garissa).