KNUT Urges Government Shift in Strategy Against North Rift Banditry

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has urged the government to reconsider its approach to combating banditry in the North Rift so that normal learning and teaching can resume in the region’s schools.

General Francis Omondi Ogolla and several troops perished in a helicopter crash while on a mission to evaluate military-marked schools for rehabilitation before they reopen next week.

Mr. Malel Langat, Knut’s first national vice chairman, led the union officials in proclaiming that “the death of the military top gun and other soldiers should mark a turning point in dealing with the banditry menace in the region.”.

Mr. Langat from Bomet County stated that the government’s years of relentless struggle against bandits necessitated a change in strategy.

He noted that the government should reconsider and adjust its approach to ending banditry, given the sacrifice of soldiers who lost their lives during a noble mission shortly after inspecting a school for rehabilitation.

Mr. Langat expressed concern over the loss of numerous lives, including those of children, teachers, security officers, administrators, clergy, innocent villagers, and pastoralists, among others, throughout the years.

He criticized the government’s persistent use of the same approach to combat bandits despite these losses. Mr. Langat raised concerns about the future of schools closed due to recent attacks, and how learners and their teachers would function as a result.

In order to eliminate the threat and restore order, he argued for increased regional security and the application of local remedies, enabling people to go about their business without fear of attack.

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In the presence of National Executive Council members Alfred Rop, Alice Chepkoech Bor, and Richard Lentayaa, as well as branch executive secretaries Desmond Langat (Bomet), Willy Korir (Transmara), and Anthony Gioche (Nakuru), Mr. Langat declared the immediate need to rebuild schools and strengthen security.

Mr. Lentayaa expressed concern that, with schools about to reopen for the second term, there is no guarantee that the attacks experienced in the recent past will not recur. He emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the safety of children and teachers who report to their learning and working places without fear of bandit attacks.

Mr. Lentayaa, executive secretary of the Samburu KNUT, stated that to find a long-term solution to the banditry problem, security authorities must be unbiased in their approach to fighting it.

Mr. Lentayaa questioned the government’s strategy, suggesting that announcing impending security operations only allows bandits to retreat or alter their tactics in insecure areas. He proposed that the government should conduct surprise attacks on the bandits instead. 

 Mr. Rop and Ms. Bor claimed that banditry had had a significant impact on learning in the region’s schools and institutions, resulting in high dropout rates and hampering the government’s efforts to restore peace in the North Rift.

They stated that the issue of children dropping out of school to fight against bandits, while others join the attackers in raids, is a historical problem that the country needs to address.

Mr. Korir and Mr. Langat said it was sad that the government had failed to find a long-term solution to the problem since independence, leaving communities on edge.

A huge number of schools in Turkana, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Laikipia, and Samburu, among others, have stayed closed due to bandit attacks, with the offenders eluding security forces.

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The deployment of Kenyan Defense Forces soldiers in the region has done little to clear the area of marauding gangs that appear to know the terrain well and can conduct raids on police stations and camps before retiring to their hideouts.

Senior and junior police officials, administrators, and politicians have been attacked by gangs, many of which have resulted in tragic deaths, with weak infrastructure and outmoded cultural habits, particularly cattle rustling, listed as the primary causes.

Years of disarmament operations have failed to stop the attacks, and the military’s employment of modern equipment, like drones, has yet to yield the expected results, prompting calls for a change in strategy.

KNUT Urges Government Shift in Strategy Against North Rift Banditry

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