Sunday November 12, 2017
Passengers in Mandera Town on November 11, 2017 board buses heading to Nairobi. Bus services had been suspended for a week because of insecurity. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Bus services plying the Mandera/Nairobi route resumed Saturday after a week-long suspension due to terror threats.
However, non-locals will not be allowed to board the buses until security in Mandera County improves.
A security source told Nation that police officers from Mandera Town will escort a convoy of eight buses to Kotulo, more than 250 kilometres away, after their Elwak counterparts withdrew their services.
POLICE ESCORTAccording to Mr Bardad, Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia only agreed to allow police escort on Saturday.
Mandera Bus Association Chairman Mohamed Bardad said they were yet to agree with security officers on various issues.
"We are yet to agree on many issues to allow normal operation of the buses. The government is not yet ready to provide armed security escort," Mr Bardad said.
"We are only having police escort today (Saturday) to allow stranded passengers travel out of Mandera, but onwards there will be no police escorts," he said.
Mr Bardad said bus owners and the government agreed on allowing Mandera residents to use the buses.
"Non-locals will not be allowed in the buses. They can use the Mandera-Moyale-Isiolo route until security improves," he added.
County Commissioner Shisia could not be reached for comment but he had said on Tuesday that the suspension of bus services will stay until new customized police vehicles are provided.
"We shall only resume escorting buses once we get a replacement of two burned and old police vehicles," Mr Shisia said.
On Monday, suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked police officers escorting a bus in Dabacity, burning two vehicles.
Twelve police officers from Elwak station survived the attack.
Travellers who have been stranded in Mandera Town since Monday welcomed the resumption of services with mixed reactions.
Mr Mohamed Amin, a bus driver, said the government must come up with a permanent solution to security problems.
"We are always having the same problem all the time but we don’t see the government responding in the best way," he said.
Mr Amin, who has been plying the route for three years, wants the government to focus on the hotspots.
"The attackers are always found at known points. If the security teams lay traps at these points, the Al-Shabaab militants will be dealt with for good," Mr Amin observed.
Mr Dickson Kweyu, a teacher in the county, said he had been delayed for a week.
"Police need better equipment to challenge Al-Shabaab and our security has to be guaranteed by the State," he said.
He nonetheless expressed satisfaction with their security situation.
"After staying in Mandera Town for a week, I am satisfied that all arrangements are in place for a safe travel."
Ms Habiba Abdi Maalim said the suspension has affected her studies.
"I was to travel on Tuesday and report for classes in Nairobi on Thursday but I am late now," she lamented.
This will be the second time the government is advising non-locals in Mandera not to use buses while traveling into and out of the region.
On July 2016, six people died after two buses were sprayed with bullets by Al-Shabaab terrorists at Wargadud.