President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked Mandera residents to support the construction of the security wall.
He said the wall, which started being built last year, was not meant to separate Kenyans from Somalis but to create designated entry and exit points. It is to stretch from the border in Mandera to Kiunga in Lamu.
There has been strong resistance from the Somalia government, who see the wall as a way of separating them from their Kenyan relatives and hampering business.
Uhuru said the wall was meant to stop illegal entry of people, especially criminals who enter Kenya, commit crime, then sneak back to Somalia.
He spoke to residents in a baraza in Mandera on Wednesday on his first official visit to the county.
“I want allay any fears that the Somalis and the Kenyans might have regarding the construction of the wall. I am appealing to you all to embrace the construction because it is good for our country. Exit and entry points will be created and so you have no reason to be wary,” the President said.
He was with Deputy President William Ruto, several Cabinet Secretaries, National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale, Governor Ali Roba, county MPs and other leaders.
Uhuru said the government will involve Igad in irrigation projects along River Dawa in Rhamu subcounty.
But the first assignment will be to control flooding, which has destroyed crops and property.
The President said the move will boost food security for a county that largely depends on food from neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia, since Nairobi is far away.
He launched the groundbreaking of the construction of Elwak Airport and commissioned the tarmacking of the Mandera-Rhamu and Wragadud-Elwak roads that he said will cost Sh2.5 billion.
Uhuru said he will engage KRA to reduce the tax on vehicles impounded for lack of proper documents. The cars are held in a military camp.