Kibwana in row with cartels over sand mining
| Apr 23rd 2013 | 2 min read
By Onesmus Nzioka
Makueni,Kenya:Transporters have defied a directive issued and are going about their daily business as usual
Makueni County Governor Kivutha Kibwana has found himself on a collision course with cartels controlling sand harvesting after he issued a decree to ban the activity in Makueni.
Prof Kibwana had earlier issued the directive to pave way for a policy formulation on how to harvest sand, which has been shrouded in mega corruption, loss of lives and environmental destruction.
The cartels majorly controlled by the sand transporters and loaders have blatantly defied Kibwana’s directive and are going about their business unperturbed.
The Governor said the cartels have gone to the extent of issuing threats to him over the ban.
He has, however, promised to crack the whip on the cartels that have in the past clashed with the Provincial Administration, police and the local community, leaving several dead and others nursing life threatening injuries.
Property worth millions of shillings, including sand transporting lorries have been lost in the bloody conflicts witnessed from time to time.
“This is a matter we will collectively and patiently deal with. Even if I am killed to have sand harvesting rationalised for the benefit of the people of Makueni, so be it,” said the Governor in response to the cartels’ threats.
He regretted that the sand transporters were paying the community and loaders peanuts while raking in millions in Nairobi, Athi River and Mlolongo markets.
“It is saddening that a 20-tonne lorry of sand pays Sh700 to the county government, Sh200 to the loaders and less than Sh1,000 to the community while raking in between Sh30,000 and 40,000 in Nairobi,” said the Governor.
Investigations by The Standard found that at each police roadblock in the area, the sand transporters have to part with Sh300 per lorry to bribe the police officers to allow them smuggle the resource from the area.
A lorry driver who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons boasted that the Governor cannot stop them because ‘they are well connected to powerful people and have the police under check”.
District Commissioners in the county said they were not served with a notice of the ban and were not aware of the directive.
County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ngelu has called on members of the assembly to hurriedly pass necessary legislation to regulate sand harvesting.
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