One killed, five injured in Gilgil pasture clashes

Thursday, October 1st, 2020 00:00 |
Police in Gilgil douse a bonfire started on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway by residents protesting the clashes pitting farmers and grazers in the town. The busy highway was blocked for hours yesterday. Photo/PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE

One person was killed while five others were left nursing serious injuries following a violent clash between farmers and herders at Ebenezer area in Kikopey, Nakuru County. 

Reports indicate the clashes began when herders drove their livestock into a maize plantation in search of pasture before a standoff ensued. 

The residents blocked the busy Nakuru-Nairobi Highway and lit bonfires protesting the killing in the process paralyzing transport along the route for hours before police intervened.

They said the fight began when farmers confronted a group of herders at the maize plantation where the owner was shot dead with a poisoned arrow. 

Tension rose in the area with the communities that have lived harmoniously for a long time turning against one another. 

During the incident, an unknown number of cattle was slashed by the irate farmers who were protesting the move by the pastoralists to drive their animals into their farms. 

Police have been deployed to intervene and cool tempers after the armed pastoralists gathered in the night ready for revenge. 

Gilgil OCPD John Ondit confirmed the incident adding that they have launched an operation in the area to ensure the clashes are contained. 

Ondit however asked the herders to graze their animals on uncultivated parcels of land to avert conflict saying the matter can be avoided. 

“We have 16 heads of cattle in the police station which were driven in by the land owners and we are waiting for the owners before taking the next step,” said Ondit. 

Trouble started on Monday evening when the herders attacked and seriously injured the two women who were driving away the cattle from their farms.

Angered by the move, locals gathered and drove the 10s of cattle to Gilgil police station to protest the invasion. 

Justin Kamau said the area is tense calling on the government to intervene adding that their farms have now been converted to grazing fields.

He accused the area police of working hand in hand with the herders adding that their efforts to seek a lasting solution on the perennial clashes had been futile. 

“We are also Kenyans and we have a right to own property and it is supposed to be protected like any other, all we want is peace and people should respect each other,” said Kamau. 

On his part, Mwangi Nyagah said people should respect private property adding that their farms have been destroyed by the cattle.

He added that police are biased after receiving bribes to quell the tensions saying the Ministry of Interior should intervene. 

“We are farmers and we cannot farm, the whole area is tense and we need officers to do their work,” said Nyagah. 

However, the herders are now demanding to have their cattle back saying the accusations were not founded on any fact. 

Gilgil MCA Jane Ngugi called on the police to intensify patrols in the area saying they will not want to see loss of lives due to clashes in the area. 

She said that some of the injured were admitted in Gilgil sub-county hospital while the others were treated and discharged.  

“This is a problem that has lasted for years and we surely need a lasting solution over the matter,” she said. 

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