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Baringo residents block tourists from park citing discrimination

RIFT VALLEY
By Vincent Mabatuk | August 1st 2016

Activities were temporarily paralysed at Lake Bogoria National Reserve as locals protested against alleged discrimination in employment opportunities.

They claimed most of the employees at the game reserve were outsiders and that the revenue collected was not shared with the local community.

Elizabeth Kochei, a resident, said locals have been denied jobs because senior managers at the reserve have come in with "their people".

"We want a review of staff recruitment to ensure equal opportunities. We also want this game reserve managed in the same way as Masaai Mara, where revenue is shared between the local community and the government on a 50-50 basis," Ms Kochei said.

"It is unfair that deserving youths are denied jobs that eventually end up with outsiders or cartels," she added.

She also claimed that foreign tourists were introducing local girls to pornography. "They secretly take nude photos of them. We demand that the police investigate and punish the culprits."

Residents said most of those affected were children from 45 families that were displaced due to insecurity. Others were driven out of their homes after the lake burst its banks three years ago.

But James Kimaru, a senior park warden, dismissed the claims and asked those with evidence to table it.

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"That has never happened in Bogoria. The only thing I have seen tourists do is give children sweets," he said.

Jonathan Tereito, another local, demanded the implementation of a ruling by an international court that found the national government guilty of violating the rights of the indigenous Endorois community by evicting them from their land to make way for the game reserve.

A decision that the community should get its land back was approved by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State on January 3, 2010, in Addis Ababa.

Tourism Executive Wesley Keitany said they would meet residents on Wednesday to discus the matters raised.

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