Whispers Parliamentary Reporter
Senators have opposed a plan by the Kenya Defence Forces to evict a section of Isiolo residents to pave way for expansion of their training camp.
The soldiers have issued an eviction notice to the residents of Isiolo Central, Ngaremara and Gambela areas to create room for planned expansion of the Military School of Infantry.
On Tuesday 24th September, 2019, the lawmakers accused the soldiers of planning to forcefully take away land belonging to the community.
They said the military was using their heavy machinery to intimidate residents and grab large tracts of land belonging to marginalised communities.
Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake demanded an explanation from the government through the Senate’s Lands, Environment and Natural Resources committee on how and when the military acquired the parcel.
“We need an explanation on the steps that have been taken by the government to compensate the landowners in the affected areas who are living in anxiety and fear of losing their ancestral land, homes and livelihoods,” she said.
She also demanded to know the measures the government has put in place to prevent the use of force, abuse of human rights and rise of social conflicts during the evictions.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo accused the government of militarising the county and raised concerns that the soldiers could be planning to use force to flush residents out of the targeted areas.
“We are being boxed into a corner by KDF soldiers in Isiolo. The soldiers are practising in areas where people are staying. There are more than four KDF camps in Isiolo,” Dullo, who is the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, said.
Minority Leader and Siaya Senator James Orengo said the military has developed a habit of taking away large parcels of community land in arid and semi-arid areas.
Orengo reiterated that the soldiers should not be allowed to take the parcels without consulting or compensating the affected persons.
Speaker Kenneth Lusaka ordered the Lands Committee chaired by Nyandarua Senator Paul Githiomi to immediately swing into action and provide answers within 10 days.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said, “Where land belongs to the community, there must be consultations. There must be adequate and prompt compensation before the land is taken away.”
Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen termed KDF’s move as cruel and demanded prompt compensation before the evictions are executed.
“It is cruel for the government to violate the rights of its own citizens. The committee that is going to investigate this matter must produce a comprehensive report,” he said.
Senators Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Ali Abdullahi (Wajir) and Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) faulted the soldiers for insensitive to the plight of the people targeted for eviction.