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Thursday, 2 June 2016
Kenia Narok County demands closure of a dozen camps in and around the Masai Mara
PROF. DR. WOLFGANG H. THOME, ETN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT MAY 30, 2016
News are emerging from Nairobi about a directive given by the Narok County Government, as per above banner the selfstyled 'Premier Tourism & Cultural Destination' in Kenya, which demands the closure of as many as ten tented camps in and around the Masai Mara Game Reserve as well as two base camps for balloon operations.
Two of the affected camps, on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions and acts of vengeance, questioned the foundation of the closure notice and the sanity of the officers involved. Both were claiming that they were duly licenced, had paid their licence fees and other statutory dues and had not broken any laws or regulations when the camps were built.
When trying to obtain added information about what suspicion the two camps were harbouring over the reasons why they received closure notices and yet others did not, both simply stated that after living for fourty years in East Africa I should draw my own conclusions on the most obvious reasons.
When sharing the sign below with them, where the county government claims to be a corruption free zone, this only evoked acid laughter and comments not fit to be repeated in an open article, leaving it to the readers to draw their own conclusions.
Other camps and lodges preferred not to be drawn into the controversial development, ostensibly over fears that should their own objections to the closure notices for others become public, they too could be singled out by what one said 'of control county government officials'.
The Masai Mara, from middle of June onwards, expects the great migration of wildebeest and zebras from the Serengeti to reach the Masai Mara, a spectacle which draws every year tens of thousands of tourists to this part of Kenya to witness this natural wonder of the world. The migration stays in the Masai Mara until at least September but often reaches into October, prolonging the spectacle for visitors.
Accommodation at this time of year is normally sold at a premium but should the directive stick will dozens of tents become unavailable and tourists already confirmed in the affected camps may find themselves without accommodation. The same can be said for the two affected balloon operations and no doubt will lawyers seek their day in court. Several of the affected camps intend to take their objections to court, seeking first an injunction against the county government before then attempting to unravel Narok's case against them in open court.
What is obvious is that there is an agenda at work and ulterior motives have been suggested by several other sources from Kenya's tourism establishment in both Nairobi and Mombasa, making this an emerging story to watch.