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Families to wait longer for Sh1bn fluorspar land pay

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The Covid-19 pandemic forced Mhasibu housing company to reschedule repayments on loans worth Sh40 million in the first nine months of 2020, the firm says. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The compensation to the more than 5,000 families displaced from their ancestral land in Kerio Valley, Elgeyo Marakwet, to pave the way for mining activities more than 40 years ago is expected to take longer than expected due to logistics challenges.

A similar fate befalls hundreds of workers who were rendered jobless after the Kenya Fluorspar company suspended operations almost 10 years ago due to dwindling international market prices for the minerals.

More than 1000 people who were employed by the company have written to Mining and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes demanding to know the fate of the firm and payment of their benefits.

“We want to know if the Kenya Fluorspar Company is still in existence and if not when did it officially exit,” said Moses Segite, one of the employees.

They claim the company suspended operations without settling their terminal benefits and there are fears that they will never receive the payment.

Some of them have moved to court demanding benefits from the company, which had assets worth more than Sh5 billion before it stopped operations. It exported over 106,000 metric tonnes of fluorspar before its collapse.

The fate of more than 1,400 beneficiaries of Sh1 billion set aside by the government will also have to wait until the National Land Commission (NLC) completes its verification process

Whereas the government had indicated willingness to release Sh1 billion as compensation, the residents are demanding Sh9 billion after they were rendered homeless from their 9,070 acres of ancestral land.

They were displaced from their Kimwarer Sugutek land to pave the way for the Kenya Fluorspar Company to carry out mining activities.

A multi-agency team drawn from the Mining ministry, Office of the Attorney-General, NLC and the Lands ministry toured the area last week to fast-track the compensation process.

The displaced families are demanding Sh3 million per acre for the 921-acre mining field. The NLC identified 4,300 landowners as genuine beneficiaries.

NLC acting chief executive Kabale Tache Arero said: “Ministry of Mining, NLC came up with a task force to handle the issue of past and present compensation until then, no payment will take place. Payment will have to await further deliberations among government ministries and agencies,” she said.