The National Land Commission (NLC) will soon commence a legal process that will see Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) surrender 4,345 acres of training grounds in Lpartuk and Lkuruto areas in Samburu central sub-county.
The Commission’s Chairman Mohammed Swazuri said they will follow legal process in ensuring that the military has been given alternative land within the county after surrendering the contentious land to the community.
“We will start looking for an alternative land for the military within Samburu County but after a lengthy process which will see the community regains their land,” Swazuri said.
The military legally acquired the land in 1977 through a gazette notice and started using it as training grounds for cadets.
When NLC together with representatives from KDF met the community on Sunday at a Maralal hotel, it was revealed that over 10,000 people had settled within the land in contention and in the process built three secondary schools, six primary schools, and an airstrip among other social amenities.
During an interview with KNA, Swazuri said that due to the population increase, the land is no longer fit to be used as training grounds for the military.
“The land was meant for cadet training and therefore required a lot of space which has been encroached because of population increase after the military took a long time to come back,” he said.
According to Benard Learaman, a village elder in Lpartuk, the last training exercise held by the military was in the late 1980s.
He said due to military absence, locals moved into the land which initially belonged to them since they did not know about the 1977 gazettement of the land.
“Back then we were not informed that the land was given to the military. I remember they just came and put beacons and started training immediately. When they went for a long time we thought they were done with the land so we moved in,” he said.
On November 15, 2016, the parliamentary defense committee visited the land which is in the outskirts of Maralal town and said that an executive order by president Moi in 1989 ordered the land to be given back to the community.
The committee also revealed that they had held talks with KDF to surrender the land back to the community while alternative training grounds within the county were sought.
Samburu Senator Steve Lelegwe and Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda said they would cooperate with the government in ensuring the military gets an alternative parcel of land within the county by engaging communities and other leaders.