Disputed Mara camp demolished in Narok

Sunday December 24 2017

Mara Rafiki Camp.

A man assesses the damage to the dining room at Mara Rafiki Camp, Narok County, on December 24, 2017 after it was demolished. PHOTO | JOEL REYIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOEL REYIA
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A luxury camp in the Mara, whose construction is at the centre of an ongoing legal battle, has been demolished in controversial circumstances.

Mara Rafiki Camp was destroyed on Friday following a court order.

ORDER

Hoteliers in the Mara had vehemently opposed its construction citing, among other concerns, that it is built on riparian land.

In the court case, Olonana Camp and Tangulia Camp, which neighbour Mara Rafiki Camp, are opposed to its construction.

An order said to have been issued on Friday by Judge Mohammed Kullow of the Environment and Land Court in Narok, which was seen by the Nation, termed the luxury camp’s construction illegal.

It temporarily halted the construction of the camp, pending the hearing and determination of an application filed by Olonana Limited, which runs Olonana Camp in the same area.

“A temporary order of injunction be and is hereby issued, restraining the defendant, whether by itself, its agents and or its servants from encroaching onto, trespassing onto, or otherwise interfering in any manner with the plaintiff’s peaceful entitlement, occupation, possession and use of any part of that land... pending the hearing and determination of the application,” read the order issued under a certificate of urgency and dated 21st December 2017.

It also ordered the defendant to immediately remove any construction materials and structures on the banks of the River Mara, failing which they would be removed by the plaintiffs “at the defendant’s costs”.

Mara Rafiki Camp.

The Mara Rafiki Camp’s dining room before it was destroyed. PHOTO | JOEL REYIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

OPPOSED

In a statement, Mr Gideon Kimaai, who is building Mara Rafiki Camp in partnership with a German couple, protested against its destruction, saying he had not been served with the order.

He questioned the legality of the order, arguing that it was issued and executed on the same day without him being notified.

“I was heading home from Narok when I received a call that some people had invaded our property and were demolishing houses. This caught us by surprise as we were not served with any order to that effect,” he said in a statement.

HARASSED

Construction workers at Mara Rafiki also complained that they were harassed by county askaris providing security during the demolition.

A worker, who declined to be named for fear of harassment, said they were flushed out of their quarters before bulldozers brought down their houses.

“We did not carry anything, all our property was destroyed,” he said.

The worker said that after destroying the dining room, which overlooked the River Mara, the invaders set it on fire.

The tractors, he said, belonged to the Narok County Government.

DESTROYED

When the Nation team visited the scene on Saturday evening, smoke was billowing from the ruins of what used to be the dining room.

Beside it, five tented camps that were still under construction and the staff quarters had also been levelled.

The owners have estimated the cost of the damage at Sh35 million.