Squatters on land belonging to salt firms in Magarini have been ordered to leave.
Magarini Deputy County Commissioner Samuel Lokorio issued the directive during the handing over of an outpatient ward building for Marereni dispensary constructed by Krystalline Salt Limited.
“There are many squatters that have invaded land belonging to salt firms and they should move out before we come for them,” said Mr Lokorio.
Thousands of squatters live on land claimed by salt firms. There are different reasons for this, including claims that the firms acquired the land without compensating the residents.
Some of the squatters have built permanent houses, schools and other investments on the land and have accuse local administrators of conspiring with salt firm investors to oppress them.
But the salt companies have claimed that the squatters had been paid for land but had either come back or refused to leave, demanding more money.
Lokorio told residents to accord the companies a conducive environment to carry out their activities and cautioned leaders against inciting them.
However, Magarini MP Michael Kingi opposed the order and urged the salt firms and the national administration to go slow evicting the squatters.
“You have huge chunks of land you can use to produce large amounts of salt and there is no need to evict people who have no other place to call home,” Mr Kingi said, adding that leaders would oppose any attempt to kick out the squatters.
He also dismissed a report on salt harvesting that was compiled and released by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). He accused KNCHR of shielding salt firms at residents' expense.
“The report on salt harvesting was a sham and we are against it. We shall continue fighting for the rights of our people who reside around the salt mining sites,” he said.
The report accused local politicians of inciting the public to invade land leased by the salt firms.