Makueni leaders unhappy over President Ruto's proposal on Tsavo revenue

Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

President William Ruto's directive that Taita Taveta residents will get at least 50 per cent of the revenue collected from Tsavo National park has not been received well by Makueni leaders.

On a tour in Voi last week, Dr Ruto announced that revenue collected from Tsavo East and West parks will be shared on a 50-50 basis between the national and Taita Taveta county governments.

The sharing has irked Makueni leaders who say it is discriminatory arguing that their region deserves a share of the cage since it borders the two parks.

Led by Senator Dan Maanzo, Kaiti MP Joshua Kimilu and Ivingoni/Nzambani MCA Harrison Mutie, the trio expressed their disapproval of Ruto's directive insisting that there need to be a clearly defined revenue sharing formula that will benefit neighbouring counties of Makueni, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Kitui.

“Taita Taveta is not the only county that borders the two parks. Makueni and other counties have parks and conservancies which surround Tsavo National Park. I am appealing for a mutatis mutandis approach so that all counties benefit,” said Maanzo while warning that Makueni can not overlooked.

“Elephants keep on straying into peoples’ farms destroying crops, killing and maiming our people. We can’t be the ones bearing the brunt of human-wildlife conflicts while elsewhere they are getting proceeds out of tourism,” he added

Both Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks are the two Kenya’s largest and oldest protected areas in Kenya with a collection of more than Sh60 billion annually.

“When the Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua visited he gave himself seven days to ensure no animals maraud our villages. But the animals are still disturbing the peace of our people. We can’t be faced by all these problems alongside those arising from conservancies situated along the animal corridors and yet we are told we can’t have a share of these parks,” Maanzo decried

Kimilu said there was need for a comprehensive formula that will capture the interest of Makueni people so that they can feel the importance of conserving the wildlife.

“The people of Makueni especially from Kibwezi East feel neglected unlike their neighbours in Taita Taveta. The president’s declaration was uncalled for. The persistent human-wildlife conflict and the section of Makueni land lying inside Tsavo national park should be used as reference to define a revenue sharing formula,” noted the MP.

On his part, Mutie, a vocal MCA whose ward borders Tsavo West national park and Chyullu said Ruto's proposed formula will be a recipe for chaos as it will fuel hostilities amongst neighbouring counties.

“We are still having a problem with Taita Taveta over the boundary. Tsavo West national park depends on water flowing from Chyullu national park and Makueni is the custodian of Chyullu hills. We can’t be ignored at all,” stated Mutie.

He said sharing of resources from the parks equally between counties and the national government should never be rushed as it should involve various stakeholders.

 “Before the sharing formula is arrived at, let governors of the affected counties meet, and agree so that we can forestall a problem that may arise in the future. Whatever we are doing today will affect us in the future,” added Mutie.

 But according to Morris Mutiso, a politician from Taveta Taveta, who unsuccessfully vied for the Taveta constituency seat in 2022, revenue sharing formula is not solely based on being close to the parks but the percentage of a county’s land occupied by wild animals.

 It is estimated that 60 per cent of Taita Taveta's land is occupied by Tsavo national park.