The government Tuesday issued cheques worth more than Sh8.8 million for compensation to herders whose 126 camels were killed by security officers patrolling a disputed border area between Kitui and Tana River counties in May.
Security officers who had been deployed to patrol the disputed border shot and killed the camels in unclear circumstances and wounded several others in Kalabaa and Bisan Hargeisa in Bura.
They also torched several Manyattas.
Leaders from the pastoral communities led by Bura MP Ali Wario condemned the incident and called for the resignation of Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
However, it was all smiles and jubilation on Tuesday for the MP, who was the first leader to visit the scenes of the attack, when he witnessed the eight affected herders receive their cheques from Agriculture and Livestock Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett in ceremony held at Bangale trading centre.
Each of the 126 camels killed was compensated at Sh70,000, translating to Sh8.82 million.
Mohamed Abdi, who lost 70 camels, topped the list of recipients with Sh4.9 million.
He was followed by Ibrahim Taqal, who received Sh2.9 million for the 41 camels he lost.
“I am a happy man today. After the incident, I was devastated and never in my wildest dreams imagined that the government could compensate us. I thank the government for this kind gesture,” said Abdi.
“I however urge IPOA (Independent Policing Oversight Authority) to get to the bottom of these senseless killings of our sources livelihoods. Those behind the atrocities must be brought to book to serve as a lesson to rogue government officers who think they are above the law,” he added.
Addressing the residents, Mr Bett said that the government is aware of the suffering the herders were experiencing as this was their only source of livelihood.
“We are aware of the suffering the pastoralists are going through during this dry spell. And for them to lose their only remaining herd is painful and unacceptable,” Mr Bett said.
“We have come up with programmes to cushion pastoralists during prolonged dry spells. We shall be more prepared to tackle drought situations in the future.
“We will increase water trucking, off-take programmes and increase (the livestock) insurance fund to cushion pastoralists,” he added.
The CS said the government spent over Sh1.4 billion in off take programmes and water trucking in arid and semi-arid areas in the last financial year.
Mr Bett was accompanied by PS Andrew Tuimur, Director of Livestock Julius Kiptarus, Senator Juma Wario and local leaders.
In his speech, the Bura MP expressed his delight saying the herders “can now pick up their pieces and resume their normal lives”.
“It is a huge a relief for me as a leader and the community. The killings was my lowest moment in my political career, but today I can say that the government has change my perception,” he added.