Locals demand fast compensation for fluorspar mining land

Kenya Fluorspar Company's mining site in Kimwarer, Elgeyo Marakwet County. The company has suspended mining operations. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]
Residents whose land was taken for extraction of fluoride in at Kerio Valley almost 50 years ago are yet to be compensated.

The landowners surrendered some 9,070 acres to the Kenya Fluorspar Mining Company in the 1970s.

The mining company ceased operations at Kerio Valley three years ago.

Under Kimwarer Sugutek Community lobby group, the more than 1,400 families, through their representatives, yesterday said the allocated Sh1 billion for compensation issued last year by the Government was 'too little'.

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One of the land owners, Joseph Kosgei, said his two-acre farm which he inherited from his father was now an opencast mine.

“I have not been compensated after the Government acquired the land in the 1970s, decades before the company came,” he said.

Kosgei, 62, said they are tired of successive governments' promises to expedite their compensation.

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“We need money and it is a pity that the company closed without us receiving any compensation,” he said.

Kimwarer Sugutek Community lobby group chairman Joseph Kandie said they were waiting for new National Land Commission (NLC) commissioners to take office to fast-track the compensation.

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“Since the announcement on compensation by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017, the exercise has been slow... We do not need promises but action on the ground to enable the affected families start their lives once again," said Mr Kandie.

The residents also want the amount increased to Sh9 billion from Sh1 billion announced by the Government.

Kandie suggested that the valuation exercise should be supervised by local residents and not the members of the provincial administration.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos called for inclusive talks among the residents, local leaders and the Government on how to resolve stalemate.

“The negotiation should not be hurried and all parties need to be involved in order to reach an amicable solution to this problem,” the governor said.

However, the closure of the firm three years ago has spelled economic doom for the region.

“Our businesses entirely depended on the company to thrive because its workers were our main clientele. But now over 95 per cent of traders have closed shop. I was a vegetable vendor but have since changed to hawking food targeting few boda bodas still in operation. The Government should know we are in bad situation,” said Judith Jerotich at Kimwarer trading centre.

She said small-scale traders were the most affected since they had borrowed loans to start their businesses and were now unable to repay.

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Kerio ValleyKenya Fluorspar Mining CompanyKimwarerNLC