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February 20, 2019

Garissa back in business after masts restored

Ijara MP Sophia Abdinoor in Holugho town on Saturday /STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Ijara MP Sophia Abdinoor in Holugho town on Saturday /STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Communication masts destroyed by al Shabaab militants have finally been restored in Ijara, Holugho, Sangailu and parts of Fafi in Garissa.

Hulugho deputy county commissioner Richard Siele on Saturday said that although it had taken a while, residents can finally enjoy the service.

Safaricom customers had been forced to travel for kilometres to access the services of the only telecommunication network in the area.

Locals welcomed the restoration, saying the destruction of communication had crippled crucial services such as mobile money transfer, businesses and free flow of information.

Residents said they can now breathe a sigh of relief since they will not have to travel for long distances to either make a call or receive money.

"We are very happy now that the network has resumed; we can now do business and also reopen M-Pesa shops that were closed following destruction of Safaricom masts," Ijara resident Mohamed Abdi said.

He said many vegetable stalls will also reopen. Their businesses had collapsed because they used to make orders from Garissa town.

Police from the Rapid Deployment Unit have been manning the Safaricom mast in Ijara town.

Ijara MP Sophia Abdinoor said the local leadership did its best to ensure network coverage is restored, as well as fight terror.

"We have made everything possible. We have built toilets and also given water tanks to the police officers posted to man the communication masts," she said.

The bush has also been cleared. Abdinoor appealled to the government to post more security officers to weed out the ragtag militia believed to be hiding in Boni Forest.

"We also want more National Police Reservists to be deployed to man these installations. We have been massively affected by lack of communication," she said.

Northeastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik speaking separetly said telecommunication masts across the region will be under tight security because they have become vulnerable to attacks.

"We will not take chances this time round. We want to make sure that we protect all the masts from wherever they have been erected in the region. This is because they also assist in maintaining security," he said.

Last year, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the company was incurring losses amounting to millions of shillings reconstructing the damaged masts.

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