Elders from the Boni community living in Lamu County have expressed concerns over the proposed establishment of a military base in Pandanguo and have called for talks before the camp is set up.
On July 2014, the Ministry of Defence requested the Lamu County Government to allocate a 10-square kilometre piece of land for the establishment of a camp for the Kenya Defence Forces, something that has raised concern not only among the Boni community living in the area but also among key leaders in the region.
Speaking to the Nation at Pandanguo shortly after a meeting held to deliberate on the matter on Sunday, Pandanguo Boni community elder Aden Golja said the national government had no right to demand and at the same time determine the amount of land they wanted for the proposed KDF camp in their area.
Mid-2015, the Pandanguo Boni community was issued with a block title deed for a 20,000 acre piece of land. The land is treated as an ancestral land.
Boni land is vast but the community says only a few acres were demarcated and a block title deed given.
Mr Golja said they were not opposing the proposed KDF camp but wanted exhaustive discussions to enable them know what exactly the government wants in Pandanguo.
“We had requested for security to be enhanced in Pandanguo. We had even requested for the KDF camp in our area. We are, however, not contended with the manner in which the national government had already determined [for] itself the size of the land without talking to us as the owners of the land.
“That 10-square kilometre [piece] is too big. They have not even specified where exactly the camp will be established.
“We only have 20,000 acres of land as a community and we fear if these are the ones needed, then we will be evicted. We will not allow that,” said Mr Golja.
Pandanguo Boni Community Land Chairman Sharuti Ali said the government, through the Ministry of Defence has acted unprocedurally by unilaterally determining the size of the land and location for the proposed KDF camp.
READY FOR DISCUSSIONS
He said the land owned by the Bonis is too little for the entire community but added that they were ready for discussions on the matter.
“We need to be consulted as the real owners of the land in question. The Bonis were issued with a block title deed for only 20,000 acres of land. Our concern is that this land is our settlement and also holds our traditional shrines.
“We fear that once a KDF camp is established in our area, all the settlements and the shrines will be tampered with either fully or partially,” said Mr Sharuti.
Early last week, Lamu Senator Abu Chiaba, Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa and Lamu Woman Representative Shakila Abdalla, accused Lamu Governor Issa Timamy over the establishment of the KDF camp in Pandanguo, claiming that the governor had rejected the proposal.
They also criticised Mr Timamy for not consulting them over the decision he arrived at.
Last Friday, however, Mr Timamy defended himself saying he did not reject the proposal to set up a KDF base and called for discussions concerning the proposal.
“I have never rejected any request by the Kenya Defence Forces for 10-square km of land for a military base in Pandanguo in Lamu West, neither have I failed to communicate the important matter on land allocation to the relevant leaders as alleged.
“I actually responded positively to a request from the CS, Ministry of Defence for the land in July 2014 and forwarded the same matter for input from all elected leaders in writing,” said Mr Timamy.