M a r k e t N e w s

Kenya: KNCHR Urges Taita Taveta County Government to Protect Mining Firms

Posted on : Wednesday, 31st August 2016

 The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has urged the Taita Taveta County government to protect investors in the mining sector following numerous conflicts with locals.

 
Addressing county government leaders in Mwatate, Taita Taveta County Monday, KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori noted that some investors are counting loses due to the unending conflicts.
 
Ms Mbogori was speaking at Mwatate CDF hall during the ongoing public inquiry initiated by KNCHR into human rights violations in the county's mining zones.
 
The investigations close Tuesday.
 
She said land disputes between locals and mining companies was a major issue in the area and urged the county government to address it immediately.
 
MINERS' RIGHTS VIOLATED
 
"It is assumed that only the rights of the poor can be violated but it is true rich people's rights can also be violated," she said.
 
She noted that some investors who had invested billions of shillings in mining activities in the county are faced with numerous court cases instituted by locals.
 
"It is critical for the county government to be clear on how locals handle investors. When an investor uses billions of millions to start operations then their extraction activities are stopped, it is not fair at all," she said.
 
One of the conflicts that came out strongly during the public inquiry is a land dispute between Wanjala Mining Company and Kishushe Co-operative Society.
 
Wrangles between the two parties had disrupted iron ore extraction at Kishushe after the Ministry of Mining cancelled the license for Wanjala Mining Company for what it said was failure to meet requirements of the sector.
 
COURT CASES
 
The society claimed that the company has been mining on its piece of land without consent.
 
The High Court issued an order barring both parties from accessing the land until they resolve the dispute.
 
Last week, the company's managing director, Mr Mahmud Kasim, told the inquiry that the company had lost millions of shillings due to the conflict.
 
He said iron ore worth Sh80 million was lying in the mine since he had been barred from transporting it to the market.
 
"The company had invested Sh1 billion in the site and since our activities were stopped in 2013 we have experienced a huge loss," he told the panel.
 
At the same time, county Mining and Natural Resources committee chairman Raymond Mwangola concurred with the panel that disruption of mining activities in various companies may result to loss in the lucrative industry.
 
LIVING IN POVERTY
 
However, he said, companies had violated locals' rights, making them live in abject poverty, yet the area is endowed with vast natural resources which could uplift their lives if well explored.
 
"The biggest issue is that these investors are well connected people who come to us with mining rights and evict locals from their land without following the law. This should stop," he said.
 
He said locals deserve an opportunity in the mining zones, adding that the government had been denying them a chance to venture into the business.
 
Another member of county assembly, Omar Ahmed, said lack of title deeds had escalated the conflicts.
 
"Only a few residents have title deeds. The national government should ensure that it speeds up the issuance of title deeds to minimise such cases," he said.
 
The MCAs handed over a memorandum to the KNCHR panel with recommendations that would help in streamlining the mining industry in the county.
 
Ms Mbogori promised to engage all stakeholders to unravel the conflicts for the benefit of locals and investors.

Source : allafrica.com
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