A simmering row over the construction of a luxury camp on the banks of the Mara River has taken a new twist after a human rights body threatened to sue the investors.
Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance gave a seven-day ultimatum to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the National Construction Authority (NCA) to stop the Rafiki Camp project, which it says is a threat to conservation.
The lobby’s chairman, Mr Elijah Sikona, and its coordinator Paul Mugo Maina waded into the row between the owners and a section of hoteliers, arguing that the high-end facility would be detrimental to wildlife survival and a source of conflict in the region.
“We want the National Construction Authority report that allowed the construction of the camp and Nema to produce a valid environmental impact assessment report of the project within seven days,” said Mr Sikona.
In the statement, Mr Sikona also demanded that the Narok county government intervenes due to a three-year ban of construction in and around the Maasai Mara Game Reserve without clearance from the government.
But a co-owner of the camp, Mr Gideon Kimai, argued that the land where the lodge is being built is private property.
He said they have all the documents from Nema and are using the Oloisukut conservancy management plan, in accordance to the law.
“We have not encroached on any wildlife corridor,” said Mr Kimai. “We are not on the Mara River riparian area either, as claimed by some hoteliers.
“We have got clearance from all the relevant authorities.”
Mr Kimai blamed business supremacy battles between him and the management of two neighbouring camps for the standoff and vowed to carry on with the development.
He said the 20 acres where the hotel stands is part of the 100 acres of Oloisukut conservancy in Transmara owned by his father Paul Kimai, Mr David Mwambuli and seven others.
Two weeks ago, two hotels claimed that Rafiki Camp, which is being set up by Mr Kimai and a German couple, is a threat to conservation.
In a joint statement, Camp Olonana Sanctuary and Tangulia Camp owners claimed the camp was being built on riparian land.
“This facility is being built 400 metres from our camps apart from being on a riparian area,” they said. “It is congesting the conservation area and blocking a wildlife corridor and blocking animals from accessing the river.”
However, Narok County Nema director Patrick Lekenit said the project had met all the requirements and there was no need for his office to stop it.