• More than 50 schools are in areas prone to banditry in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo counties.
•The government has directed tough security measures as banditry has increased recently.
Heavy security patrols have been deployed in banditry-prone Kerio Valley especially around schools preparing for national exams in March.
More than 50 schools are in dangerous areas in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo counties.
At least 45 people were killed by bandits, cattle rustlers and criminal gangs in 2021 in Kerio Valley. Despite tough security measures, crime has increased.
“We are working with the government to ensure security is enhanced throughout Kerio Valley so our children will be able to prepare and sit the national exams," Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said.
He said Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and his education counterpart George Magoha were determined to ensure smooth operations in schools in Kerio Valley.
Knut officials led by John Cheberi had threatened to shut down schools if security was not improved.
“We are urging the government to put in place necessary measures that will support our children to prepare for exams just few weeks away," he said. Cheberi is Knut executive secretary for the Marakwet branch.
Magoha had toured Elgeyo Marakwet two weeks ago and pledged candidates will be enabled to sit their national exams.
Tot Primary and Tot Secondary are among the schools in hard-hit areas.
A leaders meeting has been planned in the area to strengthen peace efforts. It will be followed by a series of peace meetings to be attended by political leaders and residents.
The leaders meeting will be the first forum for the new county commissioners who have taken over in Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties.
Abdirisack Jaldesa reported as the new county chief in Baringo where he replaced Henry Wafula while in Elgeyo Marakwet John Korir replaced Dr Ahmed Omar.
Jaldesa and Korir have served in other areas prone to banditry and have experience in dealing with cattle rustling attacks.
“We welcome posting new county commissioners who have useful experience dealing with cattle rustling and other security challenges," Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wesley Rotich said.
Rotich said the attacks are no longer banditry acts because armed gangs are now targeting women and children, schools, hospitals and other institutions which have nothing to do with banditry.
Rotich said bandits even operate in school compounds and children have been killed.
“This region is part of our country and the children there are growing up under very stressful circumstances. We are pleading with President Uhuru Kenyatta to take necessary measures that will save the lives of our people," Rotich said.
The new regional commissioner for Rift Valley Mohamed Malim who last week replaced George Natembeya has promised to firmly deal with the violence. He is expected to tour the affected counties.
(Edited by V. Graham)