By Talarus Chesang
Parents in the volatile parts of Baringo County have expressed concern over the fact that thousands of their children might drop out of school next term owing to the frequent banditry attacks in the region.
Margaret Chemjor, a widow from Ngaratuko in Baringo North, fears that all her four children might have to drop out of school in May.
“I lost all my 80 goats in a bandit attack in January. I used to sell animals to pay their school fees but I no longer have anything in my shed,” she said.
She reveals that she was displaced together with her children and that they are now living in makeshift temporary structures in Chepkowel, Sibilo location.
Richard Chepchomei, a resident, expressed concern that many school going children might drop out of school.
He added that many people depended on their livestock as a source of livelihood but the animals were taken away from them.
“Many parents lost their animals to the brazen bandits. Most of them, if not all, are yet to recover from such losses,” he said.
Chepchomei, who comes from Chemoe village in Baringo North, cited the case of Barketiew Sub-location assistant chief Jackson Keitany who lost all his 250 goats during a broad day light attack.
“All his goats except two young kids were driven away towards Kositei in Tiaty Sub-county. Efforts by the police and residents to recover the goats were futile” he said.
He added that over 100 families have lost their livestock to the banditry attacks.
He revealed that more than 80 people including teachers and police officers have so far been killed by heavily armed bandits since last year and thousands of school-children displaced. The banditry menace has persisted to date since 2005.
Last month, more than 2,000 pupils missed learning after 12 schools were closed down owing to ongoing banditry attacks in Baringo.
Bartabwa resident and teacher John Kandagor said that the attacks are worsening on a daily basis yet they don’t know where to run to with their children.
He pleaded with the Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiangi to intervene and address the situation urgently before schools reopen next term.
David Lomul, Kisumet resident and a retired teacher, said that it is sad that the merciless bandits don’t even allow people to bury their slain loved ones.
“All they want is to destabilize and cause them more trauma and confusion,” he said.
Baringo North OCPD Fredrick Odinga blamed the worsening situation on poor roads and lack of communication network.
“Our officers are not able to fully pursue the bandits into their hideouts” Odinga said.
Although the government deployed 150 National Police Reservists (NPR) to the area, more are still needed to curb banditry and restore peace in the region.
Baringo North MP William Cheptumo called on the government to hire and fully equip NPR into the area.
He also asked the government to compensate the attack victims.
“The government should stop watching as our people are being massacred and rendered homeless” Cheptumo said.
On February 4, CS Matiangi announced operation to flash out the armed bandits and further issued a shoot-to-kill order but so far, nothing serious has been done.