, KISUMU, Kenya, Jan 13 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has finally acted to restore peace and seek a lasting solution to the underlying problems that occasionally ignite clashes along the Kisumu-Nandi counties’ border.
The Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo on Wednesday said the Commission was out to hold meetings with the warring communities to deliberate on their concerns.
“First we are meeting residents of Muhoroni, on Thursday the Commission will meet the people of Nandi on their side then on Friday we will have a joint meeting to thrash out these issues,” he said.
Kaparo said communities must live in peace and harmony and should reject cattle rustlers from dividing them.
“You must live in peace; you must cultivate your crops without fearing that they are going to be destroyed. We are in a country that is governed by law and not governed by marauding hooligans,” he said.
Holding the first meeting at Kibigori, the epicenter of the recent clashes in Muhoroni Constituency, locals said the skirmishes that had left several people dead was not about cattle rustling.
Kibigori Residents Association secretary Sylvester Omondi read a memorandum that gave a chronology of events since 1963 and how many locals had been forced to flee their homes as a result of clashes.
Omondi said the conflict was about land, but cattle rustling was used as an entry point to cause mayhem in the area and force people to abandon their homes.
“The Nandis say that where we live is their land and they want us to go beyond the railway line which is almost three kilometers from here. Time immemorial (sic), our ancestors lived here and we will not vacate this place,” he said.
Kaparo said that issues of boundaries are constitutional and told the locals that they will not be intimidated to vacate their land by anybody.
The area MP Onyango Koyoo said those who are agitating for the extension of Rift Valley boundary into Nyanza region are criminals.
Koyoo urged the government to take action on people who cause chaos as a result of the boundary issue.
“Those people from Rift Valley who want to extend the boundary of Rift Valley by unconstitutional means are criminals and the law should catch up with them,” he said.
Kisumu County Governor Jack Ranguma urged the Commission to look into the matter of boundary critically to stem the never-ending clashes.
Ranguma said most residents of Kisumu who are sugarcane farmers at the border have occasionally been driven out of their farms by the Nandis who are also laying claim to Chemelil Sugar Company claiming it is within their land and with the pending privatization it will get worse.
“You hear people saying Chemelil is their property, we cannot ignore such statements because where there is smoke there is bound to be fire,” he said.
As a stop-gap measure, the Kisumu County Security team has set up an anti stock theft unit at Kibigori centre to address the issue of cattle rustling as political leaders deal with the underlying factors.
Kisumu County Commissioner John Elungata, who is the chairman of the security committee, says they have put in place elaborate plans to deal with cattle rustling.
“I will leave the leaders to deal with the other issues, but for us we want to purse stock theft because everything that happens here must begin with cattle theft, maybe it is an excuse, but we want to deal with that so that we don’t have that excuse anymore,” he said.
Elungata announced that two police patrol vehicles had been assigned to the new post permanently.