8 March 2002

Kenya: Endorois Claims Denied

Baringo and Koibatek County Councils yesterday denied promising Endorois community 25 per cent of the revenue collected from a Game Reserve around Lake Bogoria.

Lawyer Michael Chebii also told a Constitutional Court sitting in Nairobi that the two councils never promised to allocate 85 per cent of employment opportunities to the community.

Mr Chebii was opposing a suit instituted by over 43,000 Endorois community members against his clients. The community wants the court to block a move to evict them from ancestral land in the area.

He told Justices David Rimita and R K Rawal that the suit by the community was an abuse of court process, stressing the contentious game reserve was created during the colonial era.

The court heard that after independence, the game reserve was handed over to Central Rift Valley, consisting of Nakuru and Baringo districts.

However, in 1973, the game reserve was handed over to Baringo County Council and the same gazetted by the Government for protection of wildlife and flamingos.

The lawyer argued that during the period, 170 individuals resided in the game reserve, particularly around Lake Bogoria where they herded their cattle.

"My Lords, negotiations were held and the individuals were each compensated Sh3,152 for their land and temporary structures. The affected individuals later moved out of the game reserve," the lawyer submitted.

Saying the Government spent Sh535,899 to compensate those affected, Chebii categorically denied that during the negotiations, it was agreed 25 per cent of the revenue collected from the reserve would be given to the Endorois community.

The lawyer emphasised that the revenue collected from the reserve has been used for development projects in the area, including schools and polytechnics.

Chebii further dismissed allegations that it was agreed that 85 per cent of the job opportunities would be allocated to the community members.

The community alleges that they risk eviction from ancestral land after it was gazetted a game reserve. They are also demanding their share of the revenue raised from the reserve.

The hearing continues.

Kenya

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