Plans for the reopening of the Kenya-Somalia border in Mandera are nearing conclusion, with the renovation of the Customs Border Control Point set to begin soon.
This follows a series of high-level consultations between the two countries with the intent to advance new spheres of shared interests, particularly cross-border trade and regional security.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said that the move is one of the strategic interventions that will be deployed to curb illicit cross-border trade, including the smuggling of goods, illegal firearms, counterfeits, and drugs.
“Our border with Somalia has been closed for about ten years,” the CS said of Mandera Border Control Point, which ceased activity in 2012.
“The governments of Kenya and Somalia have agreed to designate a border point to facilitate legal movement of people and goods for the benefit of the people of Mandera and Bula Hawa,” he added.
The CS addressed elected leaders and community elders during a security tour in Mandera and Wajir and directed the county security team and the relevant government agencies to conduct a joint needs assessment for the makeover of the offices and draw up a comprehensive plan detailing the financial and logistical requirements for the undertaking.
While vouching for the potential utility of the border post, Kindiki tasked the team to come up with the report in the next one week to set off the rehabilitation works, which will be executed based on a time-bound approach.
“Let us know whatever infrastructural work is required to make our border point operational. You will assess the requirement, make recommendations, provide the bill of quantities, and the costs that are required to enable us to renovate the border post.”
The Kenya Revenue Authority’s Customs and Border Control and the Department of Immigration will be among the agencies that will be involved in the exercise.
With the fast-evolving threats to the global security landscape, Kenya has set about reorienting its counter-terrorism policy to incorporate preventive and socio-economic interventions into the existing security operations.
Being among the frontier counties, Mandera and Wajir have been vulnerable to terror attacks and radicalization to violent extremism, a trend Kindiki said the government intends to countervail through community-led security operations.
To this end, he tasked the county security team with the mobilization of community elders to identify and flush out armed militants believed to have sneaked across the border.
This strategy, according to the CS, was recently deployed by Somalia to great success.
“Some criminals and terrorists banished from Somalia have been spotted around this county. If our neighbours have managed to oust those characters from their country, we also have the wherewithal to emulate them,” he said.
Kindiki reiterated the need for the elders to partake in the security operations and assured them of the government’s support through a structured framework that seeks to motivate them to shoulder more individual and collective civic responsibility.
“The government recognizes your influence,” he told the elders about the government’s plans to empower the locals and deny criminals entry points into the communities.
“The solution to our security challenges in this county is in the hands of our elders. Through your insights and counsel, let’s come up with a special operation similar to the one our neighbour deployed to defeat these belligerents.”
He was accompanied by the Deputy Inspector General (APS) Noor Gabow, General Service Unit (GSU) Commandant Douglas Kanja, Director General Immigration Services Alexander Muteshi and elected leaders drawn from the counties of Mandera and Wajir.