Teachers’ unions and security officials in Baringo County collision over pushing of teachers to work in the banditry-prone regions amid the ongoing operation.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) on Sunday strongly demanded the withdrawal of all teachers out of the insecurity zones.
“Education is not a matter of life and death and as a union, we are not ready to lose any of our members to the deadly bullets of bandits,” said the KNUT Baringo branch Executive Joshua Cheptarus.
Currently, education is yet to resume in around ten schools which include Chemoroing’ion, Embosos, Arabal, Kapndasum, Chebinyiny, Kasiela, and Sossionte primary schools, also Kiserian, Sinoni, and Nyimbei primary and secondary schools in Baringo South sub-county.
Teachers and learners are worried to attend the schools for learning owing to the novel bandits’ attacks, raiding of livestock, and continuing security government operation to flash out the disreputable armed bandits.
Last Friday, hundreds of locals among them learners fled for their lives after armed bandits stormed Chemorong’ion, Baringo South at around 5 pm and stole 74 head of cattle.
Earlier on March 25, a 65-year old man Gabriel Lekichep was killed by bullets, while a woman Jackeline Lekidogo, 36 were grievously wounded with her two-and-a-half-year-old child.
On April 15, a Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldier was shot dead at a close-range in a fierce exchange of fire several meters from their Mukutani camp, causing more fears among the residents.
This occurs despite the region being home to a contingent of heavily armed security officers including KDF, General Service Unit (GSU), Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), and the Kenya Forest Service wardens.
Cheptarus, however, announced that they will lobby teachers against teaching in unsafe areas of the county if their security is not yet guaranteed.
He was supported by the KUPPET Baringo branch Chairman David Kibet and the treasurer Fanuel Kipsoi who also ordered the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to consider withdrawing teachers quickly from those bandits infested areas.
“There is no matter of discussion here. If the government cannot intervene to finish the menace of banditry, then we cannot whosoever allow our teachers to work there” Kipsoi said.
Baringo County Commissioner Henry Wafula advised teachers to teach without any fear for their lives.
“Because as it is now we are committed as a government to provide security to individual teachers, learners, and our schools in the insecurity-prone areas,” he said.
Wafula assured locals of their security stating that enough security officers have been deployed to quell the bandits and secure calm in the area.
“Although pursuing bandits is such a tedious exercise, so far we have managed to arrest two, seized some 70 guns, and recovered 190 stolen animals,” he said.
He was backed by the county police commander Robinson Ndiwa, who said the culprits shall soon be arraigned in court to face criminal charges.
Baringo South Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Kamuren rebuked the series of attacks in his constituency accusing the government of laxity.
“It is so shameful that our people are having no peace, thousands of children and their teachers are out of school under the watch of the government,” Kamuren said.
He said the government is invested with weapons, taxpayers’ money, and the capacity to protect people’s lives and property but it is failing.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya breathed hope to the residents saying everything is under control.
He promised to pursue a tough war against the bandits until they are all gotten rid of. “This time around we can’t leave a stone unturned,” he said.
The banditry intensified more after a peace meeting held at a Marigat hotel, where the Pokot leaders led by Tiaty MP William Kamket and West Pokot Governor Professor John Lonyangapuo asked the government to lift the operation and give 30 days to engage the locals and help end banditry.
Also present at the gathering were Governor Stanley Kiptis, Senator Gideon Moi, and Baringo Woman Rep Gladwell Cheruiyot.