ISIOLO RESORT CITY: LAPSET CORRIDOR –, LET US AVOID THE PITFALLS
There is a ravenous mad rush for land and resources in Isiolo County just like it is evidenced in other counties in which the LAPSET Corridor passes through. Isiolo county is 25,600 sq. km which is real and constant factor of production for the over 200,000 population. Strategically the LAPSSET project will take up the Isiolo central which is already crowded by other projects thanks to the duplication of other actors in project implementation.
If managed prudently and in consultation with the local people the LAPSSET project is arguably the single most important thing that has ever happened to this marginalized county since independence, thanks to the sessional paper 2 of 1965. In the absence of the above and on the flipside, it can lead to widespread escalation of poverty, social – economic disenfranchisement and apathy amongst the people. This is therefore a breeding ground for conflicts and displacements.
There is a long standing historical injustice by the state favouring our giant neighbor; the Meru who are farmers as opposed to Isiolo people who are pastoralist, the expansionist tendency of this farmers and their population growth rate further displaced the Isiolo populace. The geographical maps and trigonometrical measurement have been redrawn and manipulated to annex Isiolo county boundaries. The Districts and Provinces Act of 30th October, 1970 where an amendment motion was initiated by the then MP for Isiolo North; Hon. Mohamed Abdikadir and vehemently supported by the then iconic MP for Isiolo South, Hon Adan Wako Bonaya that;
(a) Appoint a boundary commission which will examine the Isiolo District boiundary disputes;
(b) Restore any part of Isiolo which has been claimed by other inhabitants; and
(c) Remove any changes which have taken place since independence without Isiolo people’s consent.
Nonetheless, the former Cabinet Minister for Lands, late Hon. Jackson Angaine brought a revised edition of the bill (Districts and Provinces Act, Chapter 105A) on the floor of the House on 26th June 1992 where much of Isiolo land was hived off to the neighbouring Meru district. There is a political barter trade that was going on with the Meru giving their votes as it is a vote rich region and the government in Nairobi giving them Isiolo land in exchange.
With the advent of the county government, the Meru county administration has planned projects in the disputed territory and is currently establishing new settlements.
This out rightly negates international law to annex the county without the people’s participation and without the latter’s historical or contemporary attachments to it. There is myriad of projects that are planned for in Isiolo like the international Airport, abattoir, pipeline, inland container terminal among others which will take up most of its land. We are grateful to the very vibrant non-state actors like RAP and MID-P for increasingly empowering the communities on natural resource governance. The select ad-hoc committee of the Isiolo County Assembly which tabled a report before the house to redress the problem posited the Assembly to unanimously pass it only for it to be shelved by the concerned officials of the executive wing.
The LAPPSET corridor passes through Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana,and Baringo Counties. Chairman Amb. Francis Muthaura and his board is not a representative of the diversity of the communities who inhabit that corridor, it is a case of blind justice and the people being displaced as the management of LAPPSET Authority do not understand the aspirations of the people which is the most important human resource capital.
A conflict emerging from the projects like a case in point Isiolo International Airport goes unresolved as the people are not involved, they do not even know where it falls. It has been in Isiolo all through only to be told it is in Meru because it is now more resourceful. The employment and contracts policy is skewed to favour other politically correct people. The sum total of all this, is that the people of these counties remain the losers and there is a high possibility that these pitfalls that are left open by the concerned authorities will escalate into the “next LAMU”.
It is my humble submission that the government through the KENYA VISION 2030 secretariat and Delivery Board organizes a conference of all the concerned counties and stakeholders to deliberate on the benefits of LAPPSET projects. Most importantly to the pastoralist communities occupying the LAPPSET corridor to shun the perennial conflicts and persistent cattle rustling and pick up education and entrepreneurship to fully benefit from this opportunity. I would like to recognize an organization like SAFE LAMU and urge other civil societies to follow suit and play their civic role in this counties to ensure it is a people – centered activity.
There is a clear contradiction in how vision 2030 projects are conceptualized; pundits argue that it is a desktop consultant document as opposed to an empirical document that originates from the ground. How it is possible to cut off Ewaso Nyiro River downstream to the wildlife and livelihoods to build a dam and expect to have a flourishing tourism industry.
To land speculators of the gold rush to Isiolo which otherwise is known within the circles people of Isiolo as the “New Found land” of Meru that it is not a wise thing to do, while investments are encouraged, let it to go through the due established process for us to be able to co-exist peacefully.