Taita Taveta leaders demand reconstitution of the Mining Rights Board
Some Taita Taveta County leaders want one of their own included in the chaired Kenya Mineral Rights Board.
The leaders said their county, which was rich in minerals, was losing out since it was not represented in the board tasked with giving recommendations to the Mining Cabinet secretary on the granting, rejection, retention, renewal, suspension, revocation, variation, assignment, trading, tendering or transfer of mineral rights.
Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime, the chairman of the Taita Taveta Human Rights Watch, Haji Mwakio, and the ranchers' chairman, Pristone Mwazighe, asked why the State had bypassed the region in the board appointments.
“It is absurd that Taita Taveta has no representation in the mining board, yet all the precious and industrial minerals being exported from the country originate from the area,” he said.
Mr Mwazighe complained that iron ore pits were in the region and very soon oil fields would be discovered.
"Why then is the Government overlooking the county in areas of appointment in the mining board?” he asked.
Mwazighe said there were abundant gemstones on ranches, yet their owners were not considered for the appointments.
The leaders said they feared that should the status quo be maintained, Taita Taveta residents, whom they claimed had been deprived of their mining land rights by "ruthless outsiders" who controlled the industry, would continue suffering.
Thee gems mined in the area include ruby, topaz, sapphire, rhodolite, tsavorite, red garnet, green garnet and green tomaline. Other minerals include iron ore and manganese.
70 per cent of gem mining carried out in the area is done by non-residents.
The current board, which determines fees, charges and royalties paid for minerals, was inaugurated last year by then mining CS Dan Kazungu.
Kenya Mineral Rights BoardTaita Taveta CountyMP Andrew Mwadime