Narok residents fight plan for military base near Maasai Mara

They argue this will have far-reaching negative environmental implications.

Wildebeest arrive to cross a river in the Maasai Mara on September 2, 2015. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Two months ago, the National Land Commission, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence said in a gazette notice that the national government intended to acquire the land for military use.

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A plan by the State to acquire 880 hectares of land near the Maasai Mara game reserve in Narok County for the setting up of a military facility has been opposed by locals.

The residents said the targeted parcel of land at Nkairowuani within the Lemek Group Ranch was acquired fraudulently by the alleged owner.

Two months ago, the National Land Commission (NLC), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence said in a gazette notice that the national government intended to acquire the land for military use.

ANCENTRAL LAND

However, the group, with a registered membership of more than 1,000, vowed to block the acquisition of what they term their ancestral land.

They said they would file a case in the the Lands and Environment Court in a week’s time to bar the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) from taking the land.

Addressing a meeting at Lemek trading centre on Monday, local leaders, among them Mr Fred Kariankei, Mr Moses Murumbi and Mr Julius Ntokoiwuan, said the community was not consulted on the matter

Similarly, no feasibility study was done to determine the impact of such a venture on the Mara eco-system, a migratory corridor for wildebeests.

“Failure to observe the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act no 33 of 2005 makes the whole transaction between the government and the private developer shady.

“We are opposed to this deal since this land was meant for the ‘ilmeshuki’ age group before it was annexed and sold to a private developer,” said Mr Kariankei.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Mr Murumbi said local leaders have been campaigning to have the land returned to the community since 2010.

“It was meant to be allocated to the children of ranch members who were over 18 years and had no parcels of land,” said Mr Murumbi.

Trusted Society of Human Rights chairman Elijah Sikona cautioned the government against allowing taxpayers' funds to be used to buy the controversial land until the matter was resolved.

“This is one of the many scandals we want to prove in court against the NLC. The title deeds of these lands were issued illegally to a private developer,” said Mr Sikona.

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta last month opposed the sale of the land, arguing this will have far-reaching negative environmental implications.

He demanded that the plan be shelved until a thorough environmental impact assessment study was done.

The MP questioned the rationale behind having a military camp in the conservation area. He says the whole deal smacks of mischief and a conduit for corruption by top government officials.

“What is the rationale behind it, or are we just trying to create a market for one individual to sell the land and make a killing?" posed Mr Kenta.

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