Statement on the Masinga and Kiambere buffer zone evictions
The evictions currently happening at Masinga and Kiambere are legal exercises in a bid to safeguard the buffer zones of both Masinga and Kiambere Dams.
Important to note is that the dams have a water storage capacity of 1.5 billion and 565 million cubic meters respectively and a surface area of 125 and 25 square kilometers respectively, these are large capacities of water that can cause unimaginable catastrophes if an accidental breach like the one we saw happen in Solai a few years back. To safeguard the region from such incidences a bufferzone, which in layman language is a safety belt, must be demarcated and protected. They also act as a conservation belt to protect these Critical National Assets from uncontrolled human activity which would shorten the infrastructures life span and power generation efficiency owing to high rate of siltation.
Prior to construction of the dams in 1982 and 1988 respectively, all families owning land in the marked areas, which were to be affected by the dams, reservoirs and bufferzone were compensated at the market value of the land in 1976 by order of the court and the subsequently moved with no issues. The squatters being evicted now are persons who mistook the naturally conserved bufferzone to be idle land and began to settle and establish there and it is with whom issues of eviction have been ongoing for a number of years.
The current exercise is following the end of a Court matter vide ELC No. 148 of 2017- TARDA Vs. Joseph Muli Mukuluta and others who had appealed against eviction orders given by the court. The court eventually decided the matter in favor of the Authority on the 12th March 2020 where it ordered TARDA to properly demarcate and beacon the property within 30 days from date of judgment and the squatters to vacate the beaconed property within 60 days from date of judgment
Following some resistance from the local residents on this, the authority has not been able to fully execute this task since the time of the verdict. In February 2021, The authority issued another eviction notice to the squatters and engaged the use of local authorities to assist in the evictions following a verdict by court that the exercise be headed by the Regional Police Commandant-Eastern Region