'WHERE WILL WE GO?'

Squatters threaten protests over titanium mining

More than 10,000 residents in 16 villages will be affected

MINING DISPUTE: Lunga Lunga subcounty deputy commissioner Josephat Biwott during a baraza on mineral exploration in Kasarani village, Kwale, yesterday
Image by CHARI SUCHE
In Summary

• Squatters fear they could be relocated without compensation

• Government warns residents against protests, promising to step up security

More than 80 landowners in Kasarani village, Lunga Lunga, Kwale county, have consented to mineral exploration on their parcels but squatters are worried.

The prospecting company, Base Titanium, said they will only deal with those with title deeds.

"The law is very clear. We can only do mineral exploration on the land of those who have title deeds and consent," Pius Kassim from Base Titanium said.

Squatters at the place have, however, warned that they will not allow exploration to take place. They said no machinery would be allowed on their land.

But the government has dared the squatters to make good their threat. It plans to tighten security to deal with any protests. 

Lunga Lunga deputy commissioner Josephat Biwott said the geovernment will ensure strict compliance with the law.

"I will provide security to those who have consented to the process. If you do not want it, nobody will force you. Just maintain the peace or you will be arrested for incitement," he said.

The prospecting will cover 16 villages with more than 10,000 squatters. The residents will be relocated once mineral deposits are discovered. There are fears they could be compelled to vacate without payout. 

"We don’t want to end up like our friends in Maumba and Nguluku villages in Msambweni subcounty who were relocated with no proper compensation. We have families. Where will we go?" John Manyau said.

But Kassim said the company will only deal with consenting land owners.

"We have no intention to displace people. And we have done exploration in areas like Mivumoni but did not get minerals. So it does not mean if you accept the process you will be displaced," he said.