Kenya tourism news – ‘Blocking park gates at the Mara is bad for our image’ says leading tourism stakeholder

The simmering conflict over a new electronic payment method at the entrance gates to the Masai Mara Game Reserve has erupted in a way few would have imagined, when protesters blocked the main Sekenani Gate, stranding hundreds of tourists who were left to see rowdy scenes.
The Narok County Council, which manages the reserve notably it is not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service a situation now coming under renewed review following these sad events awarded the collection of funds at the entrance gates to the Equity Bank in a 10 year deal, which promptly roused all sorts of suspicions. Some of the stories told to this correspondent during his present stay in Kenya allege that leakages in revenue collection were the root cause for the country council to go electronic, in other words saying that money was either misappropriated or outright stolen from collection points by colluding officials, and with no more cash changing hands under the new system, the alleged thieves were organizing mobs to halt the system.
In contrast has KWS been using electronic payment systems in parks they manage and individual travelers as well as safari operators use smart cards to effect payment at gates, reducing the amount of cash being handled at often remote locations.
The protestors are in turn claiming that the award of the payment collection deal was irregular, something other officials have since rejected as reported in the local Kenyan media.
However, all that said, the stranded tourists, many of whom were kept waiting for almost the entire day at the access road to the gate, which was barricaded with burning tires, logs and rocks, complained bitterly of their loss of time in the park, and tweets and social media immediately spread the word on the situation. Said a regular contributor from Nairobi last evening to this correspondent: The protestors are incited and misled. This is local politics of the highest order. Those complaining should resort to legal action challenging the decisions of the council, get an injunction. They should not send mobs to the gates and disturb our tourists. This is a very bad portrayal of Kenya tourism, very bad publicity and people sent pictures from the blockage on Facebook and Twitter to the whole world. The traffic must be allowed to flow freely in and out of the park or we risk our reputation, seriously. I hope government sends security down there to sort this out before it spins out of control. The next thing you hear of stone throwing or a tourist being manhandled, we cannot have that happen here.
The situation was not helped by a government minister making accusations over years of looting when appearing before a parliamentary committee. Banking sources are also quoted in Kenyas daily papers of denying that they were collecting gate fees but were only facilitating electronic payment systems as already done by KWS in other parks.
A returning tourist from the Mara, claiming to have seen the melee outside the gate while leaving the park for Nairobi, said to this correspondent, who had asked if they had been in the Mara and witnessed the situation: One of the chaps I asked said they needed to see cash money every day because the new system did not bring in cash and was empty, showing, if true, the extent of misconception and lack of understanding of modern payment methods, where invisible cash changes hands when credit, debit and pre-loaded smart cards were transferring funds from one party to another.
Clearly a case for increased sensitization and information to provide relevant information but of course also a case of misguided politicians trying to make political hay out of things ahead of 2012, which is an election year in Kenya. Watch this space.

2 Responses


    This open letter has been sent to as many people and organizations and tour and travel companies around the world.
    Help spread it.
    And this is why.
    Stop the Maasai Mara game drives,
    The lions territory where the lions share of your hard earned entrance fees goes to individual pockets of corrupt officials and corrupt leaders.

    Stop The Maasai Mara tourism circuit immediately
    The famous Keekorok Lodge was acquired through corrupt dealings by the Worlds most corrupt individual, Kamlesh Pattni He of the Goldenberg scandal.
    A man, who together with The Most corrupt president that Africa has ever had, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi fleeced the government of Kenya.
    The top echelon officials of Moi regime were also in the forefront of the grand corruption. These officials are still in the current administration. It is estimated that Ksh 60 Billion, 10% of Kenya’s annual budget was squandered.
    Please google out Goldenberg scandal for more on the structure of the corruption mountain, the berg.

    Kamlesh Pattni is now born again, saved, he goes around the country preaching the gospel. The bible on one hand, but with his eyes firmly glued to the price.
    The opportunity for another corrupt dealing.
    He wants to fool the gullible Kenyans.
    Do not insult our intelligence.
    The thought of you makes our stomachs churn.

    Stop the Maasai Mara circuit.
    The entrance collection point is manual rather than digital despite available technology to corrupt the fees. The officials have for many years rejected the idea of electronic payments at the gates. The reason is easy, to squander as much money as possible.
    They have been told numerous times to go digital but they have refused.
    Digital ya kazi gani? (“Digital for what?”, so they retort)

    Stop the Maasai Mara Tourism circuit.
    Where your entrance is paid electronically to a corrupt Indian firm called SOMAK.
    Who together with others own over 150 acres of prime property on the Maasai Mara.
    The corrupt aficionados have embarked on grabbing more lands and putting up lodges everywhere.
    Soon The Maasai Mara will be a city of lodges.
    And you suppose the animals love lodges?
    Come on, give me a break!

    Stop the Maasai Mara tourism.
    Its not the serene and tranquil place you see on your TV.
    There is an ugly side to it.
    The community lives on abject poverty.
    It’s a community of about a million individuals who live on less that half a dollar a day.
    Yet it is estimated that every day, Ksh 100, 000, 000 (100 Million) is lost to private hands every day. You do the maths, this money is enough to make every member of the Community a millionaire on a daily basis!!!!!!

    Stop the Maasai Mara tourism
    The community suffers from “Mangodepsys” syndrome.
    It means The Maasai NGO dependency syndrome.
    Due to the communities “abject poverty” it has become a haven for NGO’s around the world to come and hand out pens, hats, toys, sweets, cheap schools, cheap boreholes,
    Cheap relief food, medication etc.
    But alas, these NGOs are as corrupt as anything.
    The lions share go towards buying their 4X4s and living in palatial homes.

    Stop the Maasai Mara Tourism.
    For a world class tourist attraction, the so called World Heritage site,
    The roads leading to it are the worst in the world.
    The Narok County council leaders are the most corrupt.
    Narok County council is considered the richest in Kenya,
    But all the money lands on potbellied brucellosis suffering leaders.
    Brucellosis is a lifestyle condition caused by eating too much meat and beer.

    To the international community
    Your continued visits to Maasai Mara amounts to supporting impunity.
    It amounts to impoverishing the community.
    Make a stand.
    Stop the madness.

    Demonstrations are being planned across the entire
    Maasai Mara by the impoverished communities.
    They can no longer sit down and watch as their resources are raped, pillaged and plundered.
    They have had enough!
    We have had enough!

    Please join us.
    Share this information with your friends.
    Let this be a worldwide cry.
    Once the community is satisfied that all is okay,
    You will be notified.

    In 2012, Kenya will have elections under the new constitution.
    There is now a scramble for campaign money.
    The leaders are now in high gear on corruption.
    Do you realize how easy and gullible the community is?
    You money will be used to buy votes from the mostly illiterate community.
    Make this an international cry.

    This is the Maasai’s last resort and chance at self -determination.
    Read about the Maasai Fake land agreements.
    See how the community has been pushed to a corner.
    The Community is now fighting back.

    Read about who owns Kenya and see how 4 families owns almost the entire remnants of Maasai land most of it in the Maasai Mara, the place you love so much.
    Its not as romantic as you think.
    Behind the beautiful landscape
    Behind the beautiful sunsets and sunrises,
    Lies another struggle
    The struggle of the communities.
    They are the hunted.
    The lions and hyenas are the corrupt leaders and officials.
    And they go for the jugular vein of the weakest and most vulnerable.

    We are working on a strategic plan called the “MAASBEE”
    The Maasai Broad based Economic Empowerment.
    It encompasses other marginalized communities hence broad based.
    This will only take effect upon the new dispensation of 2012.
    The MAASBEE will be the new buzzword in Narok County.
    It will give hope and empowerment to the people.
    We will inform you how you can take part in the MAASBEE.
    For now, just stop the madness in Maasai Mara, will you?

    If you support human rights, and we know you do,

    Effective March 2011
    We the community have reached the end of our tethers.
    You visit for now leaves a bad taste in our mouths.


    For now of course.

    SORRY ABOUT THAT, but you do understand don’t you?

    about 7 months ago · Delete Post
    Like · Unfollow Post · September 2, 2011 at 9:45pm
    Duncan Chelseamanian Kimeiwua likes this.
    Maren Swakei Recap
    December 25, 2011 at 12:43pm · Like · 1
    Maren Swakei So, they eventually went digital, but alas, with it came an even bigger scandal. James Mwangi of Equity Bank decided that he too must dip his fingers in the honey jar, or shall we say THE BEE HIVE? And the Community said enough is enough. What followed thereafter were a 3 day demos at the Mara. There is the mother of all demos planned for early next year. IT TAKES ONE ATOM TO MOVE THE UNIVERSE….WATCH THIS SPACE.


    Equity Bank Vs Narok County Council E-Ticketing Scandal

    1. The Tendering procedure was flowed – The newspaper advert date does not tally, and it does not exist. Meaning, favoritism.
    2. The E-ticketing system is basically an IT matter. Equity Bank is not an IT company. They will have to subcontract an IT company of which County Council could have done it directly saving the Kingdom of the Maasai millions of shillings. Money that could have gone towards new universities, new schools, etc.
    3. There were other potential bidders, E.g Kenya Coop bank that was offering 2.5 % negotiable commission. Equity Bank is charging 7%. This is in contravention of the procurement act which says the commission cannot go beyond 5%
    4. Equity Bank will be receiving free money in US$. Free deposits in dollars. Meaning free cash flow to the bank. Money that ends up circulating in form of loans to their customers. It is therefore in order for Equity Bank to charge 0% commission and still make a killing.
    5. Equity bank has pegged the payment to a fixed dollar rate of Ksh 70.00. The dollar stands at Ksh 95 right now. That’s almost 30% free money to equity. 30% + 7% = 37%. Consider that the shilling continues to depreciate in value, so who knows, Equity could be making over 50 % profits from the Kingdom of the Maasai Resources.
    6. The Escrow account: All monies from tourists will go to an escrow account controlled by Equity. NCC will not have access to this information.
    7. Equity Bank will be giving Monthly statements. With all the technology involved, the statements should be live 24hrs.
    8. Equity shall deduct all their expenses first before remitting the balance crumbs to NCC. There will be no knowing what the nature of expenditure is.
    9. Narok County Council will not / may not know how many collection points are there, leaving room for loopholes in the system.
    10. The Contract states that any Maasai who is knowledgeable in accounts, or has worked in the banking sector cannot work anywhere near the system for a period of 12 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What are they hiding?
    11. It is alleged from insider sources that Equity Bank spent over Ksh 4 Million to bribe some Councilors in Narok County Council. Some were even sponsored to fly overseas. When asked, the councilors went on official duties. The majority are illiterates. Official duty indeed.
    12. Why the secrecy? Attempts to get the contract have proved futile. They have defied the KACC, they have defied the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA). We have tried taking them to court. We a considering the Considering alternative.
    13. Who else is involved? What are the higher forces behind this? Our M.P. is dilly-dallying on the issue, claiming he is not aware of the deal. Based on his track record, do you believe him?.
    14. What is the role of the GEMA connection in this deal?
    15. Already, we are losing control of the Mara. Keekorok is now owned by Pattni, he of the Goldenberg scandal.
    16. The Gema is fighting for control of the Mara, thus perpetuating the Colonization of the Maasai Community.
    17. Its for that reason that the Kingdom of the Maasai should come out strongly and condemn in the strongest possible terms the Equity /NCC deal.
    18. The Congress needs funding to take the perpetrators to court.
    19. The deal ties the Governors hands because it goes for 10 years!!!!!! Two whole terms!!!!!!!!!!.
    20. MULIKA MWIZI!!!

  2. You have hit the nail on the head. This is the most accurate article that I have seen regarding the on goings in the Mara. I know because I was employed at the Keekorok and the situation was exactly as described. The rangers had one old 4×4 to patrol the park (which was mostly in the garage) while the councilors traveled in shiny new Land-cruisers. Everyone is so corrupt that it is sickening and people like Pattni encourage it to get what they want, dishonestly. I love the Mara but had to leave because it was just hopeless. Mara will die because nobody cares no matter what we all say or do. It’s all just PESA, PESA, PESA