We are biggest employers, taxpayers, Laikipia White farmers tell Raila

We are biggest employers, taxpayers, Laikipia White farmers tell Raila

 

Laikipia’s white settlers have angrily reacted to media reports suggesting that National Super Alliance (NASA) Presidential candidate Raila Odinga plans to ‘dismantle’ white-owned ranches to cure the violence that has rocked the county.

Under the banner of THE Laikipia Farmers’ Association (LFA), they said their members’ enterprises are Laikipia’s largest employers, taxpayers, investors, and private sponsors of social projects such as education and health.

They cited a recent economic survey that revealed that in 2016 LFA members were employing 4,446 people on salaries of Sh1.14 billion per annum, with taxes in excess of Sh560 million paid to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the county, “proving our productivity through enterprise.”

“The LFA respectfully informs the leader of the opposition and presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, that its members contributed Sh10 billion towards Laikipia County’s economy between 2014 and 2016,” LFA said in a statement.

“The LFA is also about productivity for people. In 2016 alone, LFA members contributed Sh218 million towards social projects,” they added.

The farmers said Laikipia County had suffered months of invasion by pastoralists from other counties. According to them, the incursions have caused the deaths of many local people and inflicted economic losses now running into the billions.

They hold for Laikipia to continue its success story, stating that local people need peace and the rule of law.

On Monday, UK based newspaper, The Times reported that the opposition leader had vowed to disintegrate enormous ranches which had been the bone of contention between the locals and their owners.

“These ranches are too big and the people don’t even live there, they live in Europe and only come once in a while,” Mr Odinga is quoted to have told The Times in an interview.

“There’s a need for a rationalization to ensure that there’s more productive use of that land,” he added.

But earlier today, the white farmers assured Mr Odinga, who is also party leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), that its members are not “in Europe” – they are living and working on the ground in Laikipia because that is the only way to mind a successful business.

“All the ranches are owned by Kenyan citizens, whatever their racial origins, or by Kenyan companies or Kenyan trusts. These are people who have constitutional rights to protection of their property and their lives,” the white settlers told Raila.

“The LFA calls on all politicians to support the urgent need for stability. For their part, LFA members stand ready to offer their significant private sector expertise to work on solutions to the crisis facing pastoralism in the northern rangelands,” they explained.

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