A Maasai woman reacts during an operation to pull down a perimeter wall around Lake Oloidien in Kongoni Naivasha after a private developer allegedly grabbed the land which is also the only corridor leading to the water body. Members of the pastoralist community, fishermen and traders termed the move as illegal and vowed that no one would take over the land. Pix By Antony Gitonga
Lake Oloidien in Naivasha is under threat of extinction owing to encroachment of its riparian land.
Environmental experts blame a powerful cartel of traders and politicians who have targeted sections of the water body that has been detached from Lake Naivasha.
Several land owners have encroached on riparian land by erecting fences up to the shores of the lake and even putting up permanent structures.
According to David Kilo from the Lake Naivasha Boat Owners Association, the encroachment has blocked several wildlife and human corridors.
Mr Kilo said the association was working with officials from the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (LNRA) to try to reclaim the riparian land.
“After grabbing all the corridors around Lake Naivasha, the cartel has now moved to the nearby Lake Oloidien and we shall not sit back and watch,” he said.
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Kilo said the two associations had written to the National Land Commission to act on the encroachment, which they termed as illegal.
He attributed the recent increase in cases of human-wildlife conflict to the closure of the corridors, adding that the issue needs to be resolved urgently.
“This is a well-organised cartel that is working with some land officials to annex riparian land and we shall name and shame them,” he said.
Kilo said a meeting had been called for Monday by area residents and those from the nearby Kongoni centre to address the matter.
His sentiments were echoed by Peter Muthui from the Lake Naivasha Friends organisation, who said Lake Oloidien was critical in the migration of flamingoes.
He noted that the lake had become the new home of the birds after they shifted their base from Lake Nakuru.
“We fear that the ongoing encroachment could affect the riparian land and the ecosystem of the lake, forcing the birds to flee,” he said.
Mr Muthui challenged the land commission to move with haste and address the rising cases of land grabbing around lakes Naivasha and Oloidien in the past two years.
He said his organisation had written to several government agencies but that no action had been taken as the encroachment continued.
“We shall not sit back and watch. We will seek legal action and stop this cartel from grabbing more land,” he said.