NEWS 2005

 

Families protest relocation

By Philip Mwakio

East African Standard
Thursday June 16, 2005 

A row has erupted over the relocation of 247 families from the Tana River Primate National Reserve.

The controversy pits the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) against Tana River residents, who claim they have been short-changed on compensation.

A spokesman for the residents, Mr Omar Komora, said they had not been compensated for their crops after they relocated.

The primate project is funded by the World Bank through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) at a cost of $6 million. There has been stiff opposition to the project, with women stripping inside the forest to protest the re-location.

Komora said the compensation could uplift the economic and living standards of the locals. The project is aimed at protecting two endangered primates — the Tana River red Colubus and Tana River crested mangabey monkeys.

Komora was speaking on Tuesday during the allotment of letters to the families by Lands and Housing Assistant minister Danson Mungatana at Kipini trading centre. He said KWS was to blame for the problem.

But a Deputy Director of KWS, Dr Richard Magini, said the World Bank was only partly sponsoring the project. He said the bank would only fund the conservation and not the relocations.

"There is very little we can do,’’ he told an agitated crowd.

The famillies have moved from Gwano and Ndere areas in Baomo to Witu 11 settlement scheme.

Komora, who is also the chairman of Voluntary Relocation Assistance Unit (VRAU) said farmers were yet to get the promised new houses, 15 acres of land per family, a primary school, a police post, dispensary, mosque, church and Sh50,000 for each family to buy planting seeds.

‘’We are living in and pathetic conditions yet we agreed to be moved from our original homes,’’ Komora said.

They appealed to Mungatana, who is also their MP, to use funds from the constituency bursary kitty to build a primary school for their children in the new settlement scheme.