Samboja sues State over sharing of tourism revenue

Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja. [File, Standard]
Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja is demanding a share of millions of revenue collected from tourists visiting two national parks in his county. Through a petition filed at the High Court, Mr Samboja claims that the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks generate millions of shillings every year, yet his county receives nothing from the national government despite being the custodians of the national reserves.

The application has reignited the dispute between county governments and the national government over management of national reserves, which fall within county boundaries. According to Samboja, the two parks occupy 62 per cent of the total county land mass, leaving residents with little land.

The governor wants his administration allowed to start collecting revenue from the two national parks, arguing that it is unfair for his people to continue suffering the constant human-wildlife conflict yet end up not benefiting from the parks.

“Kenya Wildlife Service which has managed and collected revenue from the parks over the years has denied the county government its share,” Samboja said through lawyer James Kounah. “It is a pity that the people who

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lost land to the national parks cannot benefit from their proceeds.” Mr Kounah told the court that although the county government also incurs expenses to protect wildlife in the two parks, the revenue collected through gate collections - licences and leases - are remitted only to the national government. He claimed that the county government has repeatedly requested Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS) to disclose the amount it generates from the parks annually, but KWS has ignored the request.

He argued that the people of Taita Taveta are entitled to a share of the minerals excavated from the two parks. “The Constitution made it clear on how revenue should be shared, but the people who are supposed to benefit from their resources are languishing in poverty,” said Kounah.

“KWS and the national government have refused to listen to the governor’s plea despite several requests for a meeting.” He said Taita Taveta has been denied additional funds by the Commission for Revenue Allocation because of KWS’s failure to disclose the money it collected from the parks and remitted to Treasury was read.

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Taita Taveta GovernorGranton SambojaHigh CourtTourism revenue