Inside Kenya’s ambitious Great Wall project

APTOPIX Somalia Kenya

Kenyan army soldiers patrol in Tabda, across the border inside Somalia


The Kenya government has resolved to build a perimeter wall along the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu to guard against entry of terrorists and other illegal migrants into the country.

The project, according to plans, was to commenced in March 2015.

The Northern border has been known to be porous, and used by Somalia Islamist militants, Al Shabaab, who have launched deadly attacks and killed hundreds in Kenya, the most recent being the Garissa university attacks.

Al Shabaab has also been using the border as an easy exit for recruited youth from Kenya, who cross over into Somalia for militant training, and back to attack innocent civilians.

The border is also seen an entry point for illegal weapons and drugs into the country.

Several Kenyan soldiers have also been killed in ambushes by militia, said to have gone through the border.

Illegal migrants have also crossed over from Somalia into Lamu county through the border at Kiunga, Ras Kiamboni and Ishakani in Lamu East.

Lamu governor, Issa Timamy, told local media that a boundary wall would be built along the borderline beginning from Kiunga, through Ishakani and past the Kenyan military base in Ras Kiamboni, within Somalia.

Somali President rejects the idea

Somalia’s president urged Kenya to avoid drastic measures as it tries to stop cross-border attacks by Al Shabaab.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spoke to VOA Somali following the massacre of 148 students at Kenya’s Garissa University College.

Mohamud objected to calls by some Kenyan politicians to deport all Somali refugees or to build a wall along the Kenyan-Somali border.

Kenya vice president, William Ruto, has already given UN a three-month ultimatum to evacuate 600,000 Somali refugees living in Dadaab camps back to Somalia.

The Somali President rejects these accusations that the refugees, who mostly live in the Dadaab refugee camps, are responsible for insecurity in Kenya.

He said one of the attackers was the son of a Kenyan official and not a refugee from Somalia.

However, Mohamud thinks that they “are fighting against an ideology, not fighters or soldiers that have bases. A separation wall cannot stop an ideology. We do not believe a wall can stop Al Shaabab hostility,” he concluded.

How effective are separation barriers?

Israel has such a structure that now separates it from Palestine’s West Bank.

Spain has built fences to deter African illegal immigrants.

United States of America has a wall to deter Mexican illegal immigrants.

Saudi Arabia too has a wall separating it from Yemen.

Most renown through history is the Great Wall of China, a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.

Critics are still sceptical about the idea of whether walls are of any help or simply “comforting ideas”.

With the famous Great Wall of China, Mongol warriors led by Genghis Khan, born Temüjin still climbed it and conquered China.

The Hadrian’s Wall built across northern England meant to protect the Romans from the Scots, the Berlin wall divided a city, keeping West German capitalism from diluting East Germany’s communist revolution but these too never achieved much.

It will be too expensive for Kenya

Experts still say with wall fences erected by Nairobi’s upper middle class and elites, criminals have still climbed them and shot dead Members of Parliament, commissioners and politicians.

The idea is that on top of the wall, Kenya needs to hire private security companies to be continuously patrolling the community every day.

This will also include CCTV cameras and motions sensors installed to monitor the same wall, frequent repairs and paying guards to patrol it which will cost millions of shillings.

The critics further cited that Israel spent an estimated $2 million per kilometer during the construction of its 670 kilometer border and it costs approximately $260 million per year to maintain the wall.

Can Kenya keep up with such expenditure?

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