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MP: Fight Shabaab menace in the north to safeguard devolution

Sunday January 26 2020

Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim

Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim (2nd right) addressing journalists on January 24, 2020. He said Al-Shabaab terror attacks are a serious threat to devolution in northern Kenya counties. PHOTO | BRUHAN MAKONG | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRUHAN MAKONG
By BRUHAN MAKONG
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A legislator from northern Kenya says frequent terror attacks from Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants are threatening devolution and has called for more concerted efforts to end the menace.

Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim said that terrorism has affected the development agenda in the area and is reversing the gains that had been achieved since the onset of devolution in the once-marginalised region.

Mr Kassim singled out education, health and transport sectors as the worst hit as civil servants have fled their work stations fearing for their lives.

TEACHERS TRANSFERRED

Over 100 teachers have been transferred from schools in terror-prone areas of Wajir to safer ones, leaving students with no tutors, while some schools face the risk of closure, according to education officials.

In Garissa and Mandera counties, a similar situation has been witnessed as hundreds of teachers have fled their work stations.

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According to authorities, medical personnel who were previously working in some of the affected areas have also abandoned their work stations.

In the transport sector, road building is staring at a similar fate as contractors have been forced to stop or slow down their activities for fear of their lives.

WORKERS ABDUCTED

About a month ago, four construction workers were abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Wajir East. Some of their properties were burnt by the militants who later took them to Somalia.

On December 22, 2019, the militants destroyed construction machinery worth Sh39.8 million in Mandera County after storming a building site.

The militants also attacked a bus in Wajir County, leaving 11 people dead.

The incident has hit the transport sector as travellers have now shunned using buses.

The most recent attack was on Friday when an unknown number of gunmen shot at a bus in Khorof Kharar, injuring two passengers.

The Wajir East MP now says that these incidents are worrying and he has called for collaboration between the residents, security agencies and religious leaders to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand.

PEACE MEETINGS

"As leaders from the region, we want everyone to be involved in this fight. That is why we are holding peace meetings to sensitise residents on their crucial role in countering violent extremism," said Mr Kassim.

He said that as leaders, they have decided to put their differences aside and concentrate on ways to kick out the Shabaab militants.

Recently, Eldas MP Adan Keynan decried the frequent attacks in the county, saying that they are now forcing leaders to use the resources that they would have used for development in fighting the vice.

Meanwhile, religious leaders have been asked to be at the forefront in the fight against terrorism in northern Kenya by talking about the vice in places of worship.

On Saturday, 150 clerics from Wajir County held a meeting with leaders and members of the security team where they were sensitised on their role in combating violent extremism.

SENSITISATION

The meeting, organised by north eastern region Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Co-ordinator Adan Yunis, was a continuation of the sensitisation programme in the region in the fight against terrorism.

Addressing journalists, Mr Yunis said that as religious leaders, they have resolved to preach in mosques and religious gatherings against the vices perpetrated by the terrorist groups to ensure that lasting peace is achieved.

The Supkem leader also said that they support the government's efforts in fighting terrorism in the country.

“As religious leaders, we support President Kenyatta's efforts to ensure peace is achieved as we have seen first hand what terrorism can do," he said.