Dar es Salaam. Tanzania and Kenya have increased security on the Loliondo border as the crisis in the Ngorongoro conservation area intensify, leading to a number of Maasai people from Tanzania crossing over to Kenya in the recent few days.
Kenyan media reported on Thursday that the government there deployed security personnel in Olposimoru to monitor the movement of the Tanzanians, with reports of mass eviction of the Maasai community that had been residing in the conservancy.
The situation has continued to deteriorate in the Ngorongoro area of Loliondo since authorities tried to turn 1,500 square kilometres of 4,000 square kilometres of designated village land comprising the Loliondo Game Controlled Area into a game reserve.
On June 7 and June 8, members of Tanzania security forces were deployed to five locations in the area, where they installed tented camps to start demarcating the 1,500 square kilometres.
On June 9, the police placed markers to delineate the game reserve, but local Maasai people removed them and remained overnight to guard the site. When security forces returned at daybreak, they started firing live bullets and lobbed teargas at the Maasai.
On Wednesday, Narok County Commissioner Mr Isaac Masinde, who also chairs the County Security Committee, was quoted as saying that they had received more than 400 refugees in camps at Olposimoru, saying there was a need for Kenyan top leadership to discuss the matter with Tanzanian authorities.
“We have channels the leadership can use and solve the problem with Tanzanian leaders. We warn those coming in not to carry any weapons. Our security officers are on the lookout,” The Standard newspaper quoted Mr Masinde as saying.
“The sick and the injured will be offered treatment at Olposimoru health centre, while the critically ill will be taken to Narok County Hospital. The rest are advised to find their way back home,” he added.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Mr Hamad Masauni ordered the Immigration Department to control the Loliondo border with Kenya in order to prevent the illegal entry of foreigners into Tanzania so as to “maintain law and order” in the country.
Mr Masauni also ordered “a thorough” investigations into all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Loliondo, and ensure that they carry out their activities in accordance with the laws and their own constitutions.
“This is to prevent their activities from leading to instability in the country,” said Mr Masauni. “And if it arises that there is an NGO carrying out its activities against the laws and destabilizes our country’s security, then strict legal actions should be taken against such an NGO.”
In another development, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Donald Wright said on Thursday that he had held a meeting with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa to discuss US-Tanzania relations on a number of issues. The government exercise in Ngorongoro is being overseen by the Office of the Prime Minister.
“We also talked about tensions in Loliondo, and I asked the PM to work with stakeholders to peacefully and equitably resolve the situation,” Mr Wright said in a Twitter post.
All these are happening at a time when Arusha Regional Commissioner Mr John Mongella is saying that over 290 residents from the Ngorongoro conservation area have registered to relocate to Msomera village in the Tanga region.
“Infrastructure is increasingly being strengthened there as 103 houses have already been constructed and [on Friday] we are starting the first phase of removing livestock, their property and the residents themselves as we are prepared for that,” The Citizen newspaper quoted Mr Mongella as saying.