Isiolo leaders protest government security operation in mining area

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 12:48 | By
Isiolo Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa (right) and Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha address the press at Parliament Buildings yesterday. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Leaders from Isiolo County have faulted the government for declaring the Kom sub-location in Merti Sub-County a disturbed area to allow a crackdown on illegal firearms.

Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha and Woman Rep Rehema Jaldesa have also asked the government not to close down a mining site at Kom Durte where a security operation is ongoing following a spate of attacks.

Addressing journalists at Parliament Buildings yesterday, Odha said closing down the mine would render over 3,000 people jobless.

He pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

“It is our considered view that declaration of Kom sub-location as a disturbed area will not provide a lasting solution to insecurity since the root cause is external and emanates from Samburu County and Laisamis sub-county in Marsabit,” they said in a joint statement.

On Monday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said there was a connection between the proliferation of illegal firearms in Marsabit and mining activities in Isiolo, especially at Kom, which he said were being used to fund conflicts in the neighbouring county.

Consequently, he said, any movement to and from the area within that period must be cleared by security officials.

Any groups seeking to enter the area to engage in trade will be deemed to be armed, dangerous and combatant and will be dealt with accordingly, he added.

The General Service Unit (GSU) has been deployed to the two areas to begin an operation that the Interior Ministry said will last until normalcy returns.

“Our concern is we have 3,000 households who are doing informal artisanal mining and informally it’s not illegal because Kom is a community land, specifically Borana community land. So, when peasants do informal mining in their own land, it cannot be declared illegal,” said the Isiolo North lawmaker.

Odha said the miners should instead be protected through the establishment of a General Service Unit (GSU) camp in the area.

“The government should flush out criminals from the mining site if any and provide security to the locals who are earning their daily income from the mining,” he said.

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