Leaders from Turkana and Baringo on Tuesday traded accusations over who to blame for the fresh Kapedo attacks that have claimed six lives in less than a week, even as a humanitarian crisis looms in the volatile area.
Hundreds of residents in Kapedo are facing starvation after roads leading to Marigat, where most food supplies come from, were infested by bandits. Roads linking Kapedo from Lokori in Turkana County with Marigat in Baringo County have become impassable, disrupting transportation of humanitarian aid along the common border of the two counties.
Three school children and a driver were shot dead by bandits at Ameyan while travelling from Marigat to Kapedo last week and two people including a police reservist killed on Sunday, a kilometre away from Kapedo centre.
Most shops remain closed after foodstuffs were exhausted and no trader is willing to risk his life to access Marigat or Lokori to buy stocks.
Ms Margaret Achila, a shopkeeper in Kapedo, said she has run out of stock on key food items and she cannot stock owing to insecurity.
She said the bandits cannot allow the Kenya Red Cross vehicles into the area to offer humanitarian assistance to affected families.
Joshua Loyanae said they have been unable to access the market in Marigat for the last three months.
“We can’t buy food even if we have money. Trade and transport activities have been hit hard as no one wants to risk their life,” said Mr Loyanae.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok who flew to Kapedo in a helicopter to condole the families expressed displeasure with the way Interior Cabinet Secretary and Inspector General of Police were handling the situation.
“I call on the government through Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government Fred Matiang’i and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to speak up on the actions taken to address the situation. The people of Kapedo have a right to security and to live in their ancestral land without fear as guaranteed by the Constitution of Kenya,” Mr Nanok said.
The county boss said the situation at the Kapedo centre, that is claimed by both the Turkana and Pokot, was dire.
The residents are now depending on relief food being delivered by the Kenya Defence Forces.
Turkana County Commissioner Seif Matata said that the government would continue providing relief food as long as it is needed.
Meanwhile, Turkana East MP Mohammed Ali Lokiru and Kapedo/ Napeitom Ward MCA Willy Nalimo, who also accessed Kapedo in a helicopter, accused politicians from Baringo of inciting criminals to attack the Turkana.
Turkana Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor also blamed politicians: “The attacks especially in Kapedo are not caused by cattle rustling or ethnic animosity but have everything to do with politics.”
“It is regrettable that lives are lost to pay for political greed,” added Ms Emanikor.
But leaders from West Pokot County have faulted security organs in the county whom they accuse of laxity in dealing with the rising insecurity.
“There are high schemed plans to victimise only one community and show that only one community is bad. We don’t want blanket community condemnation. The government is closing one eye over the Kapedo killings. There are few criminals causing havoc and killing people forcing others to revenge,” said Governor John Lonyangapuo. He denied having anything to do with the attacks.
“I was there last in 2015 with President Uhuru Kenyatta. We have many Turkanas staying here in a place called Aramaget and we have not chased them. Leaders should come together to resolve this issue,” he said.
Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto claimed security officers in the region were harassing the residents in the operation to crack-down on the criminals.
He called on President Kenyatta to intervene and order operation to recover illegal weapons.
Reported by Sammy Lutta, Barnabas Bii and Oscar Kakai