The latest flare-up of the perennial violence between rival communities in the North Rift region underscores the need to step up efforts to eradicate the menace. Scores of villagers have fled their homes on the West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet border, with 30 people reported to have been killed since the beginning of the year. The conflict, which revolves around the so-called traditional pastime of cattle rustling, is, in fact, a criminal enterprise.
The Pokot, Marakwet, Samburu and Turkana communities have suffered for too long. Of serious concern is the tacit involvement of some politicians and other prominent people who profit from the lawlessness. If there was no ready market for the stolen livestock, the vice would not have persisted for so long.
It is high time the authorities stepped up efforts to eradicate this armed robbery that disrupts life in these communities, where livestock rearing is the key source of livelihood. It is encouraging to hear that two senior security officers have been dispatched to tackle the latest resurgence of violence that has seen schools shut down. They have been tasked with developing a long-term solution to the perennial inter-community conflict.
To contain the attacks, local leaders want disarmed police reservists given back their rifles. It is, however, foolhardy to wait until attacks happen to send security personnel to quell the violence. This crime has gone on for too long and calls for a bold and sustained campaign to pursue, subdue and bring the bandits to book.
The North Rift is very much a part of this great country, and a situation where armed bandits roam the region terrorising peace-loving people is unacceptable. This conflict has been characterised by attacks and retaliation, with devastating consequences. Homes are razed and animals driven away. And the community that is hit then organises a retaliatory attack and the orgy of violence continues. This has hampered the development of the large tracts of land in this region. The time to say enough is enough is now.