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Border wall pulled down by Bula Hawa residents

Movement recently suspended , angering people with family on both sides and traders

In Summary

•  'Wall' is actually parallel sections of heavy wire mesh and razor wire between heavy concrete posts; there's a deep trench on the Kenyan side.

• It has controlled entry points and is patrolled during the day by KDF.

The security border wall between Kenya and Somalia in Mandera
BORDER FENCE: The security border wall between Kenya and Somalia in Mandera

Sections of the Somalia border wall have been torn down by Bula Hawa residents in Somalia who say the barrier is interfering with families and trade.

“This wall has brought a lot of problems including dividing us when we have coexisted peacefully for years,” Somalia national Abdi Mohamed in  Bula Hawa said.

Border movement by Kenyans and Somalis to Bula Hawa and Mandera has recently been suspended.

Families live on both sides, interaction and trade have been hurt by the barrier and the recent suspension of movement.

Security sources told the Star that about 40 concrete posts from parallel rows, heavy mesh and razor wire between posts were pulled down on Tuesday evening. The barrier also has CCTV in certain areas.

Designated entry and exit points are monitored.

Northeastern regional Commissioner Mohamed Biik declined to discuss the destruction when reached for comment.

KDF patrols the area in the daytime. The situation at night was not immediately known.

Ibrahim Abdi said, "We will continue sitting down and watching as the Government of Kenya continues carrying out an exercise that will only affect us negatively in many ways."

It was not clear whether angry residents referred to the wall itself and closed-off movement, the search for the two Cuban doctors kidnapped from Mandera on April 12, anti-smuggling and anti-terrorism efforts, the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia or a number of factors.

Frustration over lack of movement of relatives is said to have been the primary reason for Somalis from Bula Hawa to bring down the wall.

The fence is intended to prevent al Shabaab terrorists from entering Kenya.

When the government announced plans to build a wall along the border, the reaction was mixed.

Residents from both countries had erected permanent houses in the no-mans-land around the border.

Bula Hawa residents in Somalia bring down section of security fence in Mandera
DESTROYED: Bula Hawa residents in Somalia bring down section of security fence in Mandera

This caused a diplomatic row between Mogadishu and Nairobi over demolition to allow wall construction to proceed.

The original plan was to build a two-metre-tall wall  along a 400km stretch. It was to have designated immigration and customs entry points and was to be fitted with CCTV cameras.

A three-metre deep trench on the Kenyan side was to run along the fence, and next to it a road was to be used by patrolling security personnel.

Today, the project has changed from a complicated wall to wire fencing. About Sh3.4 billion has already been spent, according to a recent parliamentary report.

Less than 30km of fencing has been built since 2015 when the National Youth Service was deployed.

The NYS staff abandoned the work, citing lack of payment by the government. Then KDF took over.

(Edited by V. Graham)