Community fire case with British Army delayed by lack of physical address
The Lolldaiga community in Laikipia says a lack of a physical address is making it difficult to send complaints to the United Kingdom and a committee formed to compensate them for a fire that destroyed their land.
Their lawyer, Kelvin Kubai, told Justice Antonina Kossy Bor of the Environment and Land Court in Nanyuki, the Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee had in October directed it to present the complaints to an email address that no longer accepts more messages.
As a result, he said, the last successful email he sent to the committee was last month though he had only 14 days remaining to present the complaints by the December 19 deadline.
“I sent a letter on November 23 to the British Army and also copied to this court, informing it of the difficulties that the community is facing in submitting the claim forms, but I am yet to get a reply,” Mr Kubai said.
He added that the committee’s email address lacked enough capacity and that there was a need to find an alternative method of presenting the claims.
In reply, the British Army’s lawyer, Lawson Ondieki, said he had received the letter and raised the concern with officials of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk). He said he assumed that the matter was resolved.
In her directives, Justice Kossy Bor faulted the two parties for failing to keep in communication, adding that they should have talked about the challenges they were facing and resolved them instead of rushing to complain to the court.
“Time is running out and in order to effect the ruling of this court that allowed the Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee to hear and solve the fire dispute, you have to keep informing each other of the progress,” said the judge.
In a past interview with the Nation, lawyer Kubai said he had received more than 5,000 complaints from locals seeking compensation for the inferno that destroyed 10,000 acres of land at the Lolldaiga conservancy in March 2021.
The fire was sparked during a UK army military training exercise. Locals have demanded compensation, with most of them citing health complications and losses due to increased human-wildlife conflict.
“The complaints mainly range from damage to crops, property, the environment and health-related issues arising from toxic chemicals used during the military exercises,” Mr Kubai told the Nation.
In a ruling on March 10, Justice Kossy Bor directed the dispute to be heard by the liaison committee per the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) signed by the UK and Kenya that allows it to handle civil disputes.
But the committee, per the DCA, does not have a physical address as it is formed when needed. It consists of top military officials in the Kenyan and UK government.