Security has been beefed up in Tana River, Kilifi and Lamu counties to prevent al Shabaab threats during the repeat presidential election on Thursday.
Tana River County Commissioner Oningo’oi Olesosion said the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), police Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), Quick Response Team (QRT) and General Service Unit (GSU) will work closely to monitor the border areas.
“We have permanent patrol teams of KDF, RDU and QRT along the Witu-Minjila road. The area is well taken care of,” he added.
Mr Olesosion said heavy deployment of security officers was a precautionary measures to deal with any terror threats adding that KDF, GSU, RDU and QRT camps have been set up in Kipini, which borders Boni Forest.
“We have enough security personnel in Kipini because this is part of Tana River that borders Boni Forest. We have specialised units GSU, RDU, and QRT, apart from military. The area is well-covered and we don’t foresee any problem,” he said.
Mr Olesosion also said the Boni Enclave Campaign, formerly Linda Boni Operation, had been extended to areas of Tana Delta that is under threat of the Boni Forest Shabaab terrorists.
“The KDF operation covers from our border with Lamu up to Minjila in Tana Delta even Minjila road block is under KDF. We also have a GSU camp near Gamba police station to enhance security of the area,” he said.
The county commissioner said vehicles plying the Garsen-Witu road will be escorted and passengers frisked at all security checkpoints.
He also warned motorists against travelling without police escorts and travelling on their own between Tana Delta and Lamu.
Mr Olesosion said the county security committee has put in place necessary security arrangements to ensure all polling stations are properly secured and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conducts the election with no hitches.
“We are ready for the election. We met as the county security committee to ensure deployment is there. We have put our officers in place. We have made the necessary security arrangement to ensure all polling stations are catered for. For us, as a security team, what concerns us is protection of election materials. We are prepared for that and we don’t anticipate any problem,” he added.
In Kilifi County, the KDF took control of all road blocks leading to Malindi town.
All passengers have to show their national ID cards before being allowed to continue with their journey.
The soldiers used sniffer dogs to check luggage.
The Mombasa-Malindi-Lamu road is prone to Shabaab attacks and there had been fear the militia and other criminals could take advantage of the polls and launch attacks.
The secession calls by some local politicians has also put police on high alert in an area which is home to the Mombasa Republican Council.
On Wednesday, Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa warned MRC against launching attacks during the repeat presidential poll.
This followed distribution of leaflets warning residents that they risk having their fingers chopped off if they vote.
Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu and Kwale counties suffered attacks in the past poll.
Meanwhile, there was a low voter turnout on Thursday morning in some Coast counties. The Coast is considered a Nasa stronghold.
Polling stations in Malindi Constituency, Kilifi County, began at 6am and went on smoothly. Few people voted in the morning.
There was tight security in the town as four truck-loads of KDF soldiers patrolled.
Overall turnout in Kilifi County was low compared to the August 8 election.
Most of the polling stations remained deserted as voters did not turn up.
At the Karisa Maitha polling station in Kilifi town, all the four streams had few people voting.
A voter, Mzee Ali Abdalla, said: “Voting has been fine but there is a low attendance. I believe it is because people voted in August and some are reluctant to come and participate again. But all we want is peace. I have cast my vote and I have also called on my colleagues to come and exercise their constitutional right.”
Mr Dodwel Menza, a presiding officer at the polling centre, said voting was going on smoothly.
At the Kilifi Primary School polling centre, voting was temporarily stop in stream six after several KIEMS kits malfunctioned.
Presiding Officer Romie Mramba said they called the ICT department to solve the issue.
“We opened in time but moments later, some of the KIEMS kits broke down. As we speak two of them have totally failed and we have asked the ICT department to come and revive them. The number of voters is increasing ... All in all, we have not had any other hitches and once this problem is sorted, then we will be good to go,” he said.
Report by Galgalo Bocha, Kazungu Samuel and Mathias Ringa.