KWS accused of extortion
15 May 2013, 12:25
Over 300 beach operators at Watamu in Malindi are up in arms about harassment by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Officers from Watamu Marine Park saying it hampers their operations.
The beach operators said that the KWS officers harass them daily during their operations along the beach making them incur huge losses even after they obtained a court order to restrain the officers from harassing them.
Their spokesman Muema Ngonde said that the officers defied the court orders, calling upon the government to intervene and help them.
“The KWS officers extort money from beach operators in the area and those who fail to bribe them are arrested and taken to court so we are wondering which country we are in," he posed.
Ngonde told the media that they are now operating with a lot of fear because of the cruelty of the officers.
“They also handle us like criminals in front of tourists and that move has caused a drop in the number of tourists visiting our shops to buy artifacts," he lamented.
He noted that they operate from the Turtlebay, Bluebay, Hermingways and Garoda beach hotels sea front where they sell curios, lessos and sandals.
Ngonde said that they want President Uhuru Kenyatta and his government to intervene help them handle the issue so that they can continue contributing to the economy like any other business people across the country.
"We have been licensed to operate along the beach but KWS officers are taking advantage and making money out of our businesses. That is what we want stopped,” he noted.
The Warden in charge of Watamu Marine Park Dickson Korir said that they have not been in good terms with the beach operators because of the way they are operating along the beach.
Korir said that they have respected the court order noting that those arrested are always found operating illegally and especially in areas not covered by the court order.
“Not every beach operator is arrested during our operations, but those who operate illegally. We know about the court order and highly respect it,” he said.
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