State orders fresh vetting of settlers on mineral rich Kwale Scheme

By Philip Mwakio | Tuesday, Aug 14th 2018 at 00:00
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CS Mining John Munyes (Center) flanked by Migori County Governor Zachary Obado and PS Mining John Omenge address the press at the Governor’s Office on June 18, 2018. (Caleb Kingwara, Standard)

The Government has moved to quell disquiet among settlers in the controversial Mrima-Bwiti Settlement Scheme in Kwale County by ordering fresh vetting of land beneficiaries.

The move is expected to bring to end a row pitting 400 families resettled from Maumba-Nguluku after acquisition of their land for mining and another group of 1,000 squatters demanding land at the scheme in Lunga Lunga sub-county.

The mining which was initially to be done by Tiomin Kenya Limited was later taken over by Base Titanium Mining Company.

Addressing the settlers on Sunday, Mining Principal Secretary John Omenge assured the two feuding groups that the Government will address all their concerns.

The PS further said other outstanding issues between those moved from the mining area and the company will be addressed once a Community Development Agreement Committee is formed to facilitate the process.

Grievances by settlers include inadequate compensation and failure by the miner to follow guidelines of Resettlement Action Plan.

Mr Gideon Masyuki, chairman of Mrima-Bwiti Residents’ Committee, claimed the company failed to deliver on all projects and social amenities agreed upon, including schools, dispensaries and boreholes in resettlement areas.

Deputy County Commissioner Josephat Biwott said the verification will begin in two weeks’ time and urged the beneficiaries to cooperate with Government officials to ensure the exercise is smoothly carried out.

Former assistant minister Kassim Mwamzadi, who also owned land in the mine site, said part of the scheme was swamp land which was to be drained to make it arable under the agreement, but this has never happened.

Mr Mwamzadi said the miner should pay 10 per cent in mining royalties to the people who were removed from the mining site.

He added that the unfair treatment they were subjected to as the first victims of mining-related relocation set a bad precedent to other locals who are now reluctant to surrender their land for mining.

“I can only compare our experience to circumcision whereby if those who are the first to undergo the cut scream in pain, then the rest of the potential initiates will lose the courage to face the knife,” he said amidst laughter from the crowd.

 

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