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Community Has No Quarrel With Tata Except CDA, Says MCA

Kajiado MCA, Joseph Masiaya, claims oil exploration in Magadi is causing land anxiety with Governor Joseph Lenku upping his fight against Tata Chemicals.

Governor Joseph Lenku led local Maasai in a demonstration last week to demand for jobs for his people on March 28.

Masiaya, who spoke to journalists two days after governor Lenku led more than 300 locals in storming Tata Chemicals offices in Magadi, said the county government appears to have interest on the on-going oil exploration on the land under Tata concessional land.

Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd sits on more than 224, 000 acres of leased land of which National Oil Corporation of Kenya and other partners have identified four or more oil exploration blocks. The concession land is under lease by the multinational mining company.

The MCA claimed officials of National Oil Corporation of Kenya paid Lenku a courtesy call late last year and from that time, the county went offensive on Tata Chemicals and accused it of failing to pay land rates.

“Holding demonstration against a multinational is not the way to go because there is always a room for negotiation. It is a criminal activity to incite people against a company that is paying taxes to the government,” said Masiaya.

He said the governor was to address the locals on the Tata Chemical’s property and thereafter leave peacefully and not to ambush the company staff and causing all manner of drama. “I am not part of that shameful activity,” added the MCA.

A spokesman for NOCK, Lawrence Njenga, told the Star on Sunday seismic results cannot be depended on without drilling actualization. Positive seismic results are those made on the rock beneath the earth, he said, adding that it only shows where it can be drilled.

“Drilling exercise is very costly and as NOCK we have advertised in seeking partners in drilling some of the identified blocks in Magadi. Drilling one well costs roughly Sh3 billion and the government cannot do it alone,” said Njenga.

MCA Joseph Masiaya on March 28 at Tata Chemicals grounds.

He went on; “One well is roughly 3 km down and you may reach down there and find nothing, and this the reason we are looking for partners in this costly venture.”

Masiaya on Thursday shed tears in public as he spoke on how Tata Chemicals had frustrated the local Maasai community. At some point, he broke up and walked away.

It is not clear what made him turn against his governor on the war they claimed is to make Tata understand the demands of the local people as they are detailed on 2016 county development agenda between the locals and Tata Chemicals.

Lenku’s press secretary, Billy Muiruri, said on Sunday; “It is now clear who among our MCAs is standing to be counted in this war in search for justice for our local people. Masiaya is the biggest beneficiary of Tata’s proceeds. He was educated through the help of the company, and that is what has blinded him.”

Muiruri said it is true NOCK paid a courtesy call on the governor and their team was led by board chair, Kibuga Kariiti.

“We are at that time of Maasai history where those who fight for total economic liberation of Magadi people will be known. Those who have been sucking the blood of the Maasai people through conspiracy with Tata Chemicals will be known,” said Lenku’s press secretary.

Muiruri said Masiaya belongs to the latter, and that by him siding with Tata Chemicals he confirms he belongs to that “cabal of greedy leaders who have been exploiting the plight of Magadi people”.

“He has accepted short term goodies from the multinational at the expense of bigger and sustainable benefits to the entire Magadi people,” said Muiruri.

He said Lenku will be leading the majority who has said no to a foreign investors’ continued misuse of poverty in the area to make billions of shillings from the community’s natural resources.

An international business consultant, Solomon Kinyanjui, on Saturday accused Lenku of trying to suffocate investors and instead advised him to empower the youth to go to public universities instead of demanding for jobs from investors.

Kinyanjui, who is also Kenya government consultant in foreign trade and investment, said Lenku should leave Tata Chemicals alone and do other things that are of direct impact and benefits to the people of Kajiado.

On Thursday, last week, Lenku 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.

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