Meres Abe, an Ethiopian businesswoman and her children sells at the Moyale open air market on August 31, 2017. She said the trade in Kenya is profitable and peace along the border has given them an easy time. PHOTO | IRENE MWENDWA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
By IRENE MWENDWA
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Trade has been good for Timiro Hussein in Moyale Town after law and order returned a few years ago.
Ms Hussein recalls the 2013 clashes and the ethnic fights before devolution that never let any business thrive in the region.
Speaking to Nation, Ms Hussein says that at the moment she has no fear at all while operating her business along the Moyale border.
“Peace has given us a new opportunity because we operate without fear since different communities now understand each other under cultural laws,” said Ms Hussein.
The mother of one operates a wholesale and retail shop in Moyale Town. She imports maize and wheat flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil while all soft drinks and milk she sells are manufactured in Kenya.
She says now Kenyans can trade across the border and Ethiopians can sell and buy across the border.
Ms Hussein adds that once one complies with custom regulations at the border, there is no fear since people from both countries and those within Kenya have an understanding of peaceful co-existence.
“Now our children can even share schools with our neighbours’ children and we also share medical facilities along the border without any problem,” said Ms Hussein.
Meres Abe and James Mahmed are Ethiopians yet they sell potatoes and onions in Moyale Town.
Ms Abe told Nation that there are no restrictions since Kenyans also trade across the border.
She does remember the actual number of years she has traded in Kenya but according to her, business in Kenya gives her much profit.
“We sell the entire day in the open market but we go back to our country every evening because we are not legally Kenyans,” said Ms Abe.
According to Mr Mahmed, the understanding between the warring communities along the border has given them an easy time to conduct their businesses every other day.
Mr Mahmed said that unlike a few years ago when restrictions were the order of the day because of tribal clashes, today nobody is afraid of the other because of a peace accord that was made in 2014 and amended last week.
“Our people listen to our elders more than they value the national law. Hence, a law that is implemented by the elders before the culprits are handed over to the police is followed easily,” said Mr Mahmed.
The north has been known for tribal wars that have marred normal business in various parts of the pastoral lands.
However, communities in Marsabit County especially along the Moyale-Ethiopia border have been enjoying the peace since 2013 after they signed a peace declaration between them.
The two major communities, the Boran and Gabbra, who have long been fighting not only for resources but leadership positions, have now set aside their local differences.
For instance in the past, herders would not share a common grazing field even if there were enough resources.
However, today, through the aid of various stakeholders, they are able to even communicate on the patterns of grazing in order to share the little available resources peacefully.
Recently, the two communities amended the declaration accommodating more regulations and also the necessity to spread the peace to other communities.
Speaking during the amendment of the peace accord at Koket Hotel in Ethiopia last Wednesday, the chief of party for PEACE III Sarah Gibbons said that peace, business and development work together.
Ms Gibbons commended locals for agreeing on their own set of laws and keeping them faithfully.
“The PEACE III programme began back in 2014 when elders from both sides signed the agreement and they upheld it up to date when we came to make little changes as per their wish,” said Ms Gibbons.
Majority of the participants thanked USAID and Strategies for Northern Development (SND) and other stakeholders that came up with the idea and said that other tribes should be included in the declaration in bid to completely stop conflicts along the border and across the county.
The Dukana-Dillo-Maikona peace declaration was first supported by the Kenya National Steering Committee in 2009 before USAID came up with PEACE III.
The declaration states that, for instance, a person found guilty of intended murder will pay a fine of 50 cows, each at least three years of age, before he is handed to the courts and prosecuted for murder.
The same way, there are fines for unintentional murder, rape cases, assault as well as spreading propaganda and hate speech.
After the 2013 General Elections, Moyale experienced chaos that left hundreds homeless and many others lost their lives in the process.
Marsabit County was among those that were marked as hot spots before the 2017 General Elections.
Nevertheless, to the surprise of many people, locals were able to maintain peace before and after the elections.