• The government closed the border with Somalia in 2009 citing security reasons and smuggling of contraband goods.
• Efforts by local leaders to have the border reopened have time and again proved futile.
Garissa Governor Nathif Jama has rallied residents to support the government in enhancing border security once it is reopened.
Speaking on Thursday at Dadaab Primary School in Dadaab subcounty during Madaraka Day celebrations, Jama welcomed the reopening of the border with Somalia and said residents have an integral role to play to ensure security is maintained.
The government closed the border in 2009 citing security reasons and smuggling of contraband goods.
However, refugees and people living along the borderline have continued to do business and enter the country illegally.
Efforts by local leaders to have the border reopened have time and again proved futile.
However, during the campaign period in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties, President William Ruto assured residents that he was keen on ensuring the border is reopened.
Jama said the move by the government showed that it has the interest of the residents at heart saying the local communities depend on it to do business.
"I want to say this, that since I was a governor during my first term and together with other local leaders, we have been very consistent in urging the government to reopen the border since it helps boost trade which will in turn help the government collect more revenue. The issue of smuggling of contraband goods will also be reduced," he said.
"However, while the plans are in top gear to make sure that the issue becomes a reality, as residents we must also make sure that we support the security apparatus in ensuring that our criminal elements do not take advantage of this," he added.
Jama fired a warning shot at those with intentions of smuggling goods using ‘panya routes’ saying residents should be on the forefront in identifying such people and reporting them to authorities.
His comments came just a week after Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale said the issue was being actively handled at the highest level in government, disclosing that once everything has been put in place, the borders will be reopened at specific areas to allow passage of goods.
The CS who spoke in Masalani town was, however, quick to warn those with intentions of using 'panya routes' to smuggle in goods that the government will treat them as criminals.
On his part, Dadaab MP Farah Maalim said the continued closure of the border was not only hampering cross-border trade but also leading to loss of revenue by both the national and county governments.
"We have suffered tremendously, opening the border will not only boost our own revenue but the collective national revenue,” he said.