By Eastern Newspaper correspondent
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya’s administration when he was governor was worried about perennial cattle rustling and other insecurity incidents in northern Meru, otherwise referred to as Nyambene.
In a move that was aimed at enhancing security in a region that had become cattle raiders’ paradise, Mr. Munya as governor then trained a group of rangers in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
He deployed the rangers in a camp in the Nyambene, along a favorite route used by cattle rustlers, and provided them with a vehicle to patrol the expansive terrain.
But his calls for the national government to equip them with firearms to deter the cattle raids were met with some resistance, including from a section of politicians.
Munya was angry because of the opposition to his plan to secure the region, through the creation of the Nyambene Conservancy.
Munya said just like other counties such as Isiolo, Laikipia, and Samburu had addressed the insecurity through the creation of a community conservancy, there was a need for it in Meru.
“Isiolo has a conservancy and we wanted to have one too, to act as a barrier against rustling and other insecurity incidents which have made residents move out of their area,” Munya argued.
He accused a section of leaders who were against his plan for a conservancy, saying that his accusers claimed he was training a private army for political reasons.
Munya had said he wanted to partner with investors to build eco-lodges and promote tourism attraction sites in the scenic region, which would not only improve security but have the added advantage of creating jobs for communities.
But following the killing of seven people in Mwronkorongo, Matabithi, and other areas in Tigania East in early January, calls for the conservancy had re-emerged, with a section of leaders saying security in the area has to be beefed up.
Speaking at Matabithi during the burial of the seven, five of them from Tigania West, Governor Kiraitu Murungi said he was ready to have the rangers Munya was talking about re-trained and re-deployed in the area.
Kiraitu, Munya, Tigania West MP John Mutunga, and his Igembe North counterpart Maoka Maore also called for the re-arming of reservists on the Meru side, to deter cattle raiders from neighboring regions.
This was after Munya said the area was lagging behind in economic growth because of the perennial insecurity, which had led to people moving out of the area.
“People are not investing here because of the insecurity. If security is assured this area will develop,” Munya who also said the conservancy would provide employment opportunities for locals, said.
The region teems with the small and bigger games including zebra, giraffes, antelopes, a plethora of flora and fauna, and the scenic Igombe crater, among other attractions.
The reservists should be re-armed and the 22 rangers he had should be given guns to secure the area, Munya said.
Kiraitu, who spoke after Munya said he was ready to provide a patrol vehicle for the rangers if the guns are restored to secure the Nyambene region where cattle raiders have attacked many before.
“We want them vetted and rearmed. If it happens I will take them back to camp and give them a vehicle,” said the governor.
Deputy Inspector General Edward Mbugua said the police were ready to vet and arm individuals approved by area chiefs, Njuri Ncheke, and other members of the community.