Why State may take over Laikipia ranch

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya Red Cross Society officials take a head-count of displaced people who are camping at Ol Moran Catholic Church, Laikipia to receive food aid. Photo/PD/Raphael Munge

The Senate is to summon the owner of Laikipia Nature Conservancy to explain why the ranch is allegedly used as a hideout for armed criminals terrorising residents.

Some members of the Senate Security  Committee hinted that the ranch could be taken over by the government and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) mandated to take over its management.   

The committee said it is going to summon the Italian-born owner of the 100,000-acre ranch, Kuki Gullman, to explain why her land had become a haven for criminals. 

The woman was admitted to hospital for several months, about four years ago,  after she was shot by bandits as she walked in the ranch.

Den of criminals

“We are going to summon the conservancy owner. We want her to tell us why she is not ready to surrender the conservancy to the government.

We want to know why her conservancy has become a den of criminals,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, who is a member of the committee.

Wetang’ula said that a motion to declare the conservancy as a dangerous zone would be tabled in the Senate. 

He said that the motion will, among other things, be seeking to compel the government to take over the management of the conservancy and deploy KWS officers to secure it.

The committee chaired by Kisumu Senator Fred Outa on Monday toured the three violence hot spots in the county - Ol Moran, Wangwachi and Matuiku in Laikipia West.

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure that peace is restored in this area. We want to know who are financing these criminals and those behind the cattle rustling,” he said. 

Outa appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to restore peace in the restive Laikipia, as part of his legacy for  a united Kenya.

The five-member committee urged the government to bring discipline among  provincial administrators in the counties of Laikipia, Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo counties.

 Laikipia Senator John Kinyua called for reinstatement of 400 National Police Reservists who were withdrawn two years ago. He said they should be paid well.

The government has deployed more police officers and created new administrative units to shore up security in the devolved unit.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said an entire Police Division will be stationed at the newly-gazetted Kirima Division and two additional police stations established in the area.

Matiang’i on Friday also created a new administrative sub county to tackle insecurity in the area. 

Meanwhile, learning in schools that had been closed due to insecurity continued yesterday with the population of learners improving significantly after a slow start on Monday.

The troubled Ol Moran area also marked the fourth day without any insecurity incident.

 At Ol Moran Primary School, the headteacher James Timeka said they expected the number of learners to hit more than 100 by yesterday afternoon. 

Only 65 pupils and three teachers had reported on Monday, when the school reopened after several weeks of closure due to violence.

 “The presence of armed police officers is creating a feel of security, thus attracting more pupils and teachers back to school,” said Timeka. 

The school’s population is 583 pupils and 13 teachers.

 Miharati Primary School located at the epicenter of the conflict zone remained without pupils, a situation attributed to pupils and their parents having fled to Ol Moran town. 

 “Most people have fled their homes in Miharati village. That is why we don’t have learners at the school,” Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, George Natembeya said.

  Mirigwet Primary School where there was an attempt by bandits to burn the school recorded low turnout.

 Tumaini Primary School remains empty but its pupils are learning at provisional classes at the St Mark Ol Moran Catholic Church. The school is located near the volatile Laikipia Nature Conservancy. 

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