By Alloys Musyoka
Kwale Orange Democratic Movement party leaders have issued five demands that they want addressed immediately failure to which they will be taking unspecified actions.
This they said is in line with their work of keeping the two levels of government in check for the benefit of citizens.
The leaders said that they are committed to the ideals of democracy for which ODM remains strong, active, dedicated, focused, committed & ready to disburse its duties and hold the government of the day to account.
Led by chair and former Matuga MP Hassan Mwanyoha the leaders demanded for the audit of all leased lands in Kwale (absentee landlords) and its report made public.
Many of the leases they said have expired and blamed the national Government, County Government and some of the cartels conspiring to steal land over the years.
The matter Mwanyoha said is meant to make sure that Kwale people are not benefiting from land which is a very important resource.
“We are aware that Lunga Lunga and Mwereni ranches among others have their lease expired, but there is an opaqueness about the way forward regarding those ranches,” he said.
Mwanyoha said that many Kaya Forests have been grabbed by various connected individuals, including Kaya Tiwi, Kaya Diani, Kaya Waa, Kaya Likunda because they are sitting on Prime Lands.
Besides being centres of Biodiversity, the leaders said that the kaya’s are sacred to the digo community, serve as water sources for the hotels in some cases and are centres of cultural expression for the Digo people.
“We therefore demand that the government issue title deeds and protect all Kayas in the Coastal region and revoke any titles issued for those Kaya to other individuals,” said Mwanyoha.
The ODM leaders who met in Diani also took issue with mining saying that since the multi-billion Base Titanium limited is winding up its operation in Kwale employees must be compensated their full dues.
They want the national and county government to ensure that all employees of Base Titanium and any community members owed by the company be compensated and paid their dues fully.
The opposition party also demands that the directly mining affected communities should be involved in the management, usage and decision-making processes of the rehabilitated and restored land.
Already Nguluku-Maumba Farmers’ community based organization, an umbrella body for all locals who previously lived in the area have laid claim on the land saying they want it back since what was given to them in Mrima Bwiti by the national government is water logged.
The Mwanyoha led group want the president William Ruto led government to disburse all money owed to Kwale county government failure to which the party will take necessary actions to ensure funds belonging to Kwale people are released from the exchequer.
According to ODM Kwale branch as per the Mining Act, Kwale County is to receive 20% and 10% royalties for the county and community respectively and that the royalties remitted to the Kwale County Government from the National Government amounted to Ksh. 1.2B.
“It should be noted that this is the 1st tranche of the 20% share. We also demand the Kwale County Government that the 1.2B released from treasury be properly accounted for and an effective public participation for the utilization of the money is adopted in accordance with the law with immediate effect,” said Mwayoha.
The leaders also called on the area members of parliament in Matuga-Kassim Tandaza,Msambweni-Feisal Badar and LungaLunga- Chiforomodo Mangale to push for a law in parliament that directs on the proper use of the 10% of the royalties to be disbursed to the community.
“We are afraid that the money meant for the community has now become like the personal purse of a few individuals making arbitrary decisions over the kitty with a clear budget and public participation,” they claimed.
On the mining still, Mwanyoha said that the party leadership is aware of the government feasibility studies plans at Mrima Hill in Lunga Lunga Sub County for the mining of Niobium.
They want any discussions about progressing the project to be done transparently and with the full involvement of the people of Kwale and specifically the people who will be affected by any mining in that area.
“Mrima Hill is a Kaya Forest sacred to the people of Kwale. It is also a biodiversity hotspot. Further, Mrima Hill has in the past raised concerns about high levels of radioactivity,”he added.
While faulting the national and county government for failing to involve locals in a public participation over the issue, the ODM brigade said that the proposed areas White House and Mabokoni are community land set aside for specific purposes.
According to Azimio coordinator in Kwale, Omar Boga White house was meant for a market center which was largely occupied by beach operators for many decades after former county councils allocated the land for them.
Government is set to put up cheap house units in the area as well as a modern market.
He said that the land in Mabokoni was set aside by the community to serve as a grazing area for cattle farmers in Mabokoni.
“The County Government ought to have conducted Public Participation before turning the parcel of land into something else without the consent of the people. None of the people in those two areas will benefit from these housing projects, so who is the real targeted beneficiary in this case? The County Government has failed to explain to Kwale people, who the beneficiaries for this project will be and how they will benefit?” He posed.
On infrastructure the party officials took issue with the delayed construction of Kwale Kinango road saying the national government is causing a lot of inconvenience to locals in the area.
Jenifer Makambi said that the Kwale-Kinango road which is an important link connecting different parts of the county like those travelling to and from Nairobi is in a deplorable state.
They said that the contractor has adopted a start and go approach that is very disappointing for Kwale people for the two years after the Kenya Kwanza Government took power with no progress having been made.
“We just hear excuses. We therefore, further demand THAT the National Government initiate an immediate disbursement of the funds for the Construction of the Kwale-Kinango road. We are tired of tokenism. Indeed, Kwale has nothing to show for the 2 years of Kenya Kwanza,” she added.
Due to what the ODM party officials in Kwale as increased incidences of Human Wildlife Conflicts especially in Kinango and Samburu Sub-County, they demanded the Kenya Wildlife Service to immediately compensate the family of Nyundo Kalimbo Kidziwe who died after being attacked by lion at Shimba Hills Games Reserve on 31 December 2023.
Kalimbo was a father to an eight year old with ODM party in Kwale saying it is ready to support the deceased family to pursue a legal course against KWS if compensation is not done.
“We know that there are many other Kwale people who have been attacked by Wildlife without action from the authorities and we urge all those who have been affected and not gotten justice to come forward so that we can pursue justice for them,” said Mwanyoha.
He said that they remain vigilant on behalf of Kwale people while urging leaders elected under ODM to be steadfast and work for the people of Kwale and to make sure that they remain focused on their mandates.