Governor Joseph Ole Lenku on Thursday whipped support of more than 300 Maasais to storm a multinational soda ash company plant to demand job cuts.
Lenku, who arrived in Magadi slightly after 2 pm, drove to Tata Chemicals Magadi cinema hall where he met briefly with the local Maasai morans and elders along with a number of women before walking to the company’s offices.
At the headquarters of the company, the governor addressed the locals after allowing MCAs and a section of his ministers led by lands CEC Hamilton Parseina.
Jackson Mpaada (Iloodokilani), Samuel Teum (Ildamat) and Joseph Masiaya (Magadi) broke down in tears while addressing the local people outside Tata Chemicals offices as they described how the company has for years trampled on their rights.
The three had to cut their speeches after shading tears openly before women and morans as Lenku told them to take heart because a major “revolution is coming”.
Soon after taking over the microphone Lenku started explaining how he has been negotiating with the company to consider the children of Magadi in employment.
“We have qualified children in this ward but this company has become unbearable because it has no respect for the local people who gave them their land to do mining,” said Lenku.
He went on; “Where they have pushed me to is a point of no return because I do not have the capacity to hold back my people from fighting for their rights. We asked them to give us the position of community liaison officer but they refused.”
The governor said because they refused to listen, the community is now demanding that they will drive the operation of the company to a halt if they cannot employ a local person to take over the post of the MD.
“This is what my people have told me to relay to them. We are not taking any lesser position than that of the CEO. We wanted a lower position and they looked at us as if we are aliens,” said Lenku.
He also revisited what happened 2 months ago when Tata Chemicals demolished the county government foundation for an office building in Magadi town saying those who did so will be arrested and charged in the court of law for damaging government property.
Lenku also said the locals will kick out any employee who has reached 55 years of age so as to create space for the local youth to be employed.
He claimed the vice chair of the Tata Chemicals Magadi, Titus Naikuni, should be thrown out of the company, adding that he had outlived his usefulness.
Naikuni, who has always insisted he would not respond to the governor’s statement, maintained his status quo.
As the morans made noises outside the company offices, not a single staff from Tata Chemicals walked out to witness or listen to the various speakers.
Most of those who talked accused the company of dishonesty in the dishing out money from its corporate social responsibility kitty.
Naikuni have been promising to provide a list of 2018 expenses on some more than Sh200 million they claimed went to education and water.
Naikuni promised the Star the list one week ago and when we went back to him, he failed to pick up calls.
Soon after governor Lenku ended his speech, morans stormed into the office of the company human resources but were repulsed by three police officers.
They then went into the company’s laboratory and washed their faces using tap water as they claimed all that was in those offices belong to them.
They refused to leave when asked by police officers to do so as they challenged them to use the teargas canisters they were carrying.
“Try lobbying tear gas on us and you will know who owns this land,” one of them told one policeman.
They later left in their own volition but with a warning that they will soon bring their own MD to the company.