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Marsabit leaders urge more talks over KDF base plan

Thursday January 23 2020

KDF soldiers during a drill

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers during a drill. The Ministry of Defence has requested Marsabit County for a 10-square kilometre piece of land. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JACOB WALTER
By JACOB WALTER
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Local leaders and residents of Karare Ward in Marsabit County have expressed concern over the proposed establishment of a military base in the area.

They are now calling for conclusive consultations with both the county and national governments since a section of the parcel being eyed is considered ancestral land.

The Ministry of Defence had requested the Marsabit County government to allocate it a 10-square kilometre piece of land for establishment of a camp for the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) between Karare and Parkishon areas.

Speaking during a public participation meeting on the proposed camp at Karare trading centre on Tuesday, a number of key community elders raised concern over the size of land required for the camp.

"The proposed 10-square kilometre piece of land, in our opinion, is too big. Additionally, we wouldn’t allow sections of land that have for a long time been venerated as shrines to be taken away from us," former Karare MCA Mark Argelle said.

While speaking to the Nation after the meeting, Marsabit County Commissioner Evans Achoki said the residents wanted elaborate consultations on the agreeable size of land to be given to KDF.

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“Consultations are still ongoing and, based on the sensitivity of security matters, we would wish to strike a deal that will leave both parties satisfied with the outcome,” he said.

Karare residents during a public participation
Karare residents during a public participation meeting with KDF and local administrators over the proposed military camp on January 21,2020. PHOTO | JACOB WALTER | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He said locals had also proposed that a similar public participation meeting be held by Ministry officials with people in Songa, Loglogo, Shurr and Jaldesa areas.

Mr Achoki said a section of the land is treated by the residents as ancestral land and had a shrine which they don't want disturbed.

He listed enhanced security, improved infrastructure and more job opportunities as some of the benefits that will accrue from the new base.

The administrator also said there will be free flow of essential goods into the area as a result of the camp.

Local leaders who attended the meeting include Deputy Governor Solomon Gubo, Saku MP Rasso Dido and area MCA Stephen Leado, who praised the Ministry for engaging locals in the talks.

They said they were optimistic that all parties would strike a deal.