Kilifi, KENYA: More than 1,000 residents of expansive Giriama Ranch in Bamba, Kilifi County have vowed to block any attempts by politicians to auction it to businessmen.
On Tuesday, the residents called upon the national government to clear the air on the matter as its continued stillness is exasperating them.
Addressing the media at Gede nursery school, after their weekly consultative meeting, they demanded assurance from the government that the 100,000 hectares ranch has not been sold to wealthy Mombasa business people, by well-known politicians from the region.
Barisa Galgalo, 60, a resident of the area, said he was born in the ranch and has lived with hope that it would help them but to his surprise some politicians are taking advantage of the illiteracy levels of the locals by forming a company to manage the ranch.
“I have never seen any tangble development for all the years I have lived here since the managing company took over,” Galgalo said.
“We are worried that some politicians who eyed various seats and lost are now eyeing this ranch for sale but we assure them that won’t happen in Giryama ranch,” he added.
His gushes were reverberated by Barisa Eyesa from the minority Watha community who reiterated that they will fight to the end in a bid to salvage the ranch from the hands glutton people.
“We all know that the new constitution obliterated ranches but today, we still hear of them in this constituency,” Eyesa said.
“We will not allow it because the perceived directors of the company never consulted with us as the locals,” he added.
Another resident, Changawa Kaviha said the ranch has been turned into a company without the knowledge of the locals, a move that is currently haunting them as residents.
“They only came to tell us that there was a company that would later on manage the affairs of the ranch. Miniature did we know that they wanted to sale this ranch. We have refused and we shall continue to defend this ranch,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Ganze Deputy County Commissioner Mohamed Mwabudzo, proved futile as he said he was busy and would revert back to us but in vain.
In September 2016, former Kilifi county commissioner Joseph Keter dissolved four group ranches found in Bamba for what he said were cartels turning the ranches into a cash cow.
He said the move was aimed at forestalling disputes between local Giryama and Somali pastoralist over grazing zones.
The four ranches are Dola, Mapotea, Mnagoni (Giriama) and Birya which have a total of 175,478 acres spread in four locations.
More than 200,000 people in Kilifi County are living as squatters in ranches estimated to be cover 3.8 million hectares.
Some of these ranches are found in Kaloleni, Ganze, Malindi and Magarini sub counties but they have been riddled with many under dealings going on without the knowledge of the squatters.
Some of the ranches in the county that have come under sharp scrutiny from the residents include, Mnagoni, Giriama, Chakama, Kulalu, Weru, Galana , Mapotea and Ndigiria.