A plan by Kenya to create a security buffer zone on the porous Somalia border is slowly taking shape, albeit with sluggishness and resistance.
The plan includes creation of at least 17 border posts on the 700-kilometre-long border with well-equipped personnel to respond to any form of aggression. The teams will be spread 40 kilometres apart to enable quick response to attacks from Al Shabaab militants.
So far, authorities have dug a trench and constructed a 20-kilometre long fence in Mandera as part of efforts to secure the area. The fence has helped reduce incidents of attacks by the militants who cross the border at will.
Officials aware of the plan say the security agencies are getting much-needed boost from various development partners including the British and US governments.
The British government recently donated seven fully-equipped containers to be used as police posts. The containers are fireproof and are equipped with an armoury that may take upto 10 hours to break in.
Last month, the US government donated 39 four-wheel drive cars to be used by the Administration Police’s Border Patrol Unit.
Further, a team of about 200 special forces has been created to respond to any need within the border area. This follows the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to station two planes at Wajir military base for response to any form of attack.
“Wajir is now an operation zone for responding to any attack by the criminals. It is well equipped with choppers and other rescue planes to help troops in the frontline,” said an official.
The plans are being implemented in anticipation of a plan by the Amisom troops to withdraw from Somalia. To weaken Al Shabaab’s presence, Somali forces work alongside troops from the African Union peacekeeping operations, which include forces from Kenya, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia. Kenya, in particular, has been a frequent target of Al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks.