State orders illegal herders to leave Laikipia in a week

Thursday, July 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i with Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya in Naibor, Laikipia county, yesterday. Photo/PD/PAUL NDUNG’U

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday gave illegal herders in Laikipia a week to leave the county or face forcible eviction.

He warned the herders that a crackdown will follow the lapse of the ultimatum.

Speaking at the Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) camp in Naibor in Laikipia county yesterday the CS, who was accompanied by the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, senior security officers and local leaders led by Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, blamed the herders for violent clashes with local farmers and owners of ranches and conservancies.

“We are preparing a serious crackdown. It’ll be ruthless and merciless, and I plead will all illegal herders to move out within the period,” the CS said.

Matiang’i also announced a takeover by security teams of the government-owned 80,000-acre Kilmon farm that has been a theatre of clashes between armed herders from Laikipia and the neighbouring counties. 

Register agreements

A GSU camp will be established on the land to create a buffer zone between the two warring sides, he said.

Matiang’i will today meet West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and his Baringo counterpart Stanley Kiptis alongside Alex Tolgos of Elgeyo Marakwet to discuss security related issues in their regions.

The CS further ordered private ranchers and pastoralists to register agreements on access to pastures with the county government beginning next month to enable the government to enforce the pacts and arbitrate disputes.

He said: “If you have an agreement with ranchers, that’s OK. But for the government to be able to provide security, we want such agreements recorded and the terms registered with the vounty government to help resolve disputes around them.”

To help pastoralists in the county ease the pressure on grazing pastures and water points, the CS further announced that the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), which is under the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), will begin buying around 1,000 livestock weekly from next week in a off-take deal brokered by the Government.

The programme  will complement a similar one being implemented by the Laikipia

Country Government. The CS and Governor Muriithi urged pastoralists to take advantage of the offer to reduce their losses due to drought and improve the productivity of their livestock.  

Matiang’i also put on notice local politicians whom he accused of fanning violent clashes by sponsoring relocation and forceful displacement of residents to rearrange voter distribution in the area ahead of the 2022 elections. 

He said the government will begin recruiting chiefs and assistant chiefs for new administrative units in the area, a move that will not only help contain the sponsored evictions but also decentralize security services.

“We must put an end to this balkanisation. We will not allow wananchi to be hurt due to political positions.

We will immediately arrest those encouraging election rearrangements through forced movements,” he said.

Leaders present blamed insecurity for the decline in tourism and the closure of hotels and lodges in the area, which have led to loss of jobs and revenue for the county. Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere regretted that the latest flare-ups.

More on News