Lobby groups oppose plans by Isiolo County government to lease out game reserves
Two lobby groups have opposed plans by the Isiolo County government to lease out three game reserves to the African Park Management Organisation. Waso Trust Land Project and Merti Integrated Development Programme have that said as major stake holders, they have not given their consent for the agreement to be implemented.
The two lobbies claim that the county is in the process of leasing out the Sarova Shaba, Bisanadi and Buffalo Springs game reserves. The parks were previously managed by the defunct Isiolo County Council but were later transferred to the county government following devolution. According to Waso Trust Land Project CEO Liban Golicha, APM will streamline management, marketing and fence the three game reserves but the county government will not get any revenue for the first 10 years.
He said his organisation is privy to information that initially, APM had expressed interest in leasing only one game reserve (Sarova Shaba) but the county government is alleged to have offered all the three parks. “Two months just after the general elections, the county government and APK began this plan. “They met last week to discuss on the way forward and we are worried because we were not involved in the matter," said Mr Golicha. Merti Integrated Development Programme official Salad Tutana said that there must be citizen participation on important issues performed by the county government.
DEVELOPED BUSINESS PLAN
Mr Tutana who spoke to the Nation by phone said: “Both parties involved in the leasing have already assessed the areas and have developed a business plan. "The county government was supposed to involve all the stake holders since this concerns community land," Sarova Shaba Game Reserve occupies an area of 254sq Km along Ewaso Nyiro River.
The Bisanadi Game Reserve is located along the Bisanadi River bordering Meru National Park and occupies the largest area of 607sq Km while Buffallo Springs borders Samburu County and is 131sq Km in size. The amount of revenue collected from the reserves by the county government is not clear but during the county council tenure, it collected up to Sh300 million annually.
County executive in-charge of Tourism Suleiman Shunu confirmed there were such plans. He said the county is holding several meetings to address the issue. Mr Shunu, however, said that the concerns raised will be discussed by the county assembly and also be subjected to public debate. “Whatever the outcome, it should be beneficial both to the county (government) and residents,” he said.
Courtersy of Daily Nation