Cops want 'soft target' miners out of Mandera

Quarry workers rubbish claims and say police afraid they can't provide security to all.

In Summary

• The 35 suspects arrested on Friday are being held at the Mandera police station.

• Police want the court to force the 35 to show cause why they should not be restricted to their homes for a specific period.


Mandera governor Ali Roba speaking in Rhamu town two weeks ago.
QUARRY Mandera governor Ali Roba speaking in Rhamu town two weeks ago.

Police in Mandera want the court to allow them to send 35 "desperate and dangerous" non-local quarry workers back to their home counties on security grounds.

In a sworn affidavit on Monday, Mandera East subcounty police commander Eric Ngetich said the 35 men were "a risk to the community".

“The respondents are so desperate and dangerous as to render their being at large without security hazardous to the community,” Ngetich said.

They were arrested on Friday and police want them to show cause why they should be restricted to their home counties for a period.

However, the quarry workers rubbished the claims, saying the worse they did was fail to fasten their seatbelts. They suggest police are unable to provide security for all miners and want to send them home to minimise chances of a terrorist attack targeting nonlocals — an embarrassment to the security forces.

Kenyan citizens are free to work anywhere, they said.

Non-locals have been soft targets for terrorists.

Al Shabaab terrorists have targeted nonlocal that is, non-Muslim — quarry workers, bus passengers, teachers and others. During attacks, residents also are at risk.

Non-local quarry workers are drawn to quarries in the Northeast and send money back home to their families.  

Mandera quarries have been closed due to terrorist attacks and closure has hurt the economy.

Mandera county quarry workers chairman Ali Madey Abdirahman said the suspects were arrested on charges of failing to fasten their seat belts on their way to work at the Bula Bor mines.

Madey said police were hurting the quarry business.

Isaac Gathi said, “The police only want to keep us out of the quarries and it's not about us being dangerous to society.” 

He said they were shocked when police sought to have them expelled from Mandera.

“We are here to fend for our families back at home and Mandera is part of Kenya. I have never heard that someone is prohibited from being in some part of this country,” Paul Maina said.

He blamed police for harassing them and asked why the government cannot provide security for miners.

In May 2018, four miners were killed in Mandera by al Shabaab militants at a quarry in Shimbir Fatuma, Mandera South subcounty. Two others were also injured in the attack. In May 2017, two miners were killed in a quarry in Qalengelesa, Mandera South.

In July 2015, 14 quarry workers were killed by al Shabaab in Mandera county. Twenty others were seriously injured. In December 2014, militants killed 36 non-Muslim quarry workers in Mandera.

Governor Ali Roba has on numerous occasions urged the government to lift the ban, saying it was hurting the economy of the area.

Quarrying was banned in March last year as the government moved to end the killings of miners by militants targeting non-locals. In June this year, Interior CS Fred Matiang'i assured Mandera leaders that quarry mines in the region would be re-opened but in a structured manner.