Laikipia locals raise concerns over violence
‘The government has done almost nothing about the mayhem’
Residents and conservancy owners in Laikipia have raised concerns over increased ethnic violence and invasion of their rangelands.
This comes after Tuesday’s killing of four people in North and West Laikipia. This brings the number of those killed by raiders to six. It comes against a background of continued invasion of farms and conservancies by herders and their livestock.
On Saturday, clashes led to death and loss of property when Samburu herders drove their livestock into the Kibuku Ranch, where Turkana herders had entered into an agreement with the management to graze at a fee.
Laikipia county commissioner Chege Mwangi said the Samburu community said they also have a right to graze there. “The agreement seemed to anger the Samburu community and they turned against the Turkana community. On Sunday, the Samburus stormed the Kibuku Ranch and shot dead a guard identified as Koliwo Letolea,” he said.
Residents and conservancy owners, who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said police have not acted to stop the flareup, despite threats and complaints. Many livestock have been stolen, a source said. The source said there are fears communities might be enjoined, resulting in a full-blown conflict.
“The government has done almost nothing about the mayhem in Laikipia, which has hurt commercial ranches and residents,” another source said. “It has very little to do with drought. The rhetoric of drought is used by politicians to justify a takeover of territory ahead of next year’s elections. It is a dry season, not a drought.”
The source said politicians are “using cattle belonging to big men, since livestock are a great way to hide ill-gotten gains.” The source said a senior official involved in the raid was behind the government’s inertia in the face of the rising violence due to his ethnic affiliations.
Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, National Cohesion and Integrity Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo, ranchers, local leaders and security heads held a security meeting at Rumuruti to broker a peace deal.
Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association CEO Dickson ole Kaelo said the conflicts are not only driven by scramble for pastures, but also have political undertones to “settle perceived scores”. “There is a problem of pasture brought about by prevailing drought, but there are politicians taking advantage of this desperation to mobilise their communities to take over private property,” he said.
Kaelo said ranches and conservancies that have negotiated access to allow residents to graze on their land during drought have had their farms maliciously damaged and their guards killed or threatened.