The families displaced from their ancestral land in Kerio Valley, Elgeyo Marakwet County more than 50 years ago to make way for fluorspar mining can now breathe easy after the government took steps to start compensating them.
A multiagency team led by National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri, toured the area last week to fast-track the process.
The other members of the team are from the mining and land ministries, the Office of the Attorney-General and NLC.
The chairman of Kimwarer Sugutek (Fluorspar) community, Mr Joseph Kandie, on Thursday said a headcount of the families was under way to identify genuine beneficiaries and determine the mode of payment.
“The names will be verified before the final list is forwarded to the relevant departments for the funds to be released,” he said.
The government has set aside Sh1 billion to compensate the residents, but they are demanding Sh9 billion after being rendered homeless when they were removed from their 9,070-acre ancestral land to make way for the establishment of Kenya Fluorspar Company.
The families are demanding Sh4 million per acre for the 921 acres they believe are being mined.
“We are working on the resource document prepared by a taskforce comprising community representatives and government officials,” Dr Swazuri said.
The community puts the number of eligible beneficiaries at more than 5,000 and wants a detailed assessment carried out to determine the amount each family should receive.
It has also emerged that some of the families are advocating for compensation in kind while others want cash.
“The government should consider allocating alternative land to the residents to save itself the high cost of buying land elsewhere,” Mr Micah Kigen, who has been championing compensation based on the recommendations of the Fluorspar Taskforce Committee, said.
“The families should also be compensated for the loss of livestock, damage to property and environmental pollution and degradation,” he added.
The Ministry of Mining has assured the residents that all genuine claimants will be compensated, whether in kind or cash.
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said the local people should buy shares in the company under the new management and become part-owners since the resource is in their locality.
However, the company suspended operations two years ago following a slump in the fluorspar prices worldwide.