Mandera Governor Ali Roba has ordered that quarrying sites in the county be reopened despite a ban by the national government on security grounds.
Mr Roba said the closure is negatively affecting the local economy.
“I hereby direct that as far as the county government is concerned, all people involved in quarry work to resume their activities immediately and it is responsibility of the national government team to provide security to public,” he said.
Mr Roba said livelihoods cannot be destroyed just because terror threats have been raised.
“Many attempts have happened on my life and I did not stop living or traversing the county,” he said.
The governor said the order issued by Mandera Security Committee chaired by the county commissioner is illegal and lacks basis.
“We have had terror incidents in the past and quarries were never closed, why take such a decision now when a high percentage of the population is relying the quarries?” he asked.
The government announced closure of quarries on May 4, 2018, a week after four miners were killed by suspected Al-Shabaab militants at Shimbir-Fatuma quarry in Mandera South.
Mr Roba said the ban that has since lasted two months since and it has had a multiply effect on Mandera.
“Before the ban, a lorry of stones was Sh20,000 and now it is Sh33,000 which is more than 60 per cent increase which is ailing the local economy,” he said.
The quarry industry provides more than 5,000 job opportunities in the county.
With the miners still in remand after they were charged with causing disturbance at the county commissioner’s office in Mandera town on May 21, Mr Roba challenged
the locals to take the “hard job” of manually harvesting stones.
“Since the government is interested in protecting lives of non-locals and some working in the quarries are in custody, it is time the local population took up the job and harvested stones,” he said.
Also affected by the ban are hardware shops that cannot sell construction material and those in transport sector.
“Construction industry is totally affected and if non-local workers are being barred by national government then let locals continue with business,” he said.
Mr Roba expressed fears that any future attack on any sector shall result in a closure.
“An attack on health workers shall mean all hospitals close, an attack on teachers shall mean closure of all schools and an attack on a shop shall mean all shops close,” he said.
Mr Roba described the restriction on non-locals imposed by national government as discriminatory.
He warned that if the government continues to infringe on human rights of the quarry workers then his administration will seek legal action against government officials.
Mr Roba said security in Mandera has improved and what is needed is the will to act on the shared intelligence information.
“We only have to improve on acting on shared intelligence information to close the loopholes that lead to selective terror incidents in Mandera, but so far the situation has improved greatly,” he said.