The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) has enhanced its cooperation with communities living around their training grounds in Laikipia, Samburu, and Isiolo counties.
Batuk’s major Niall Mccracken in charge of Loldaiga training ground in Laikipia County said that the army had intensified its engagement with local communities through the building of local schools, sinking boreholes and grading of rural roads in the areas neighboring their training bases.
“The permanent presence of Batuk in Kenya means that we are very much part of the local community and we strive to integrate ourselves in communities and seek to add value as best as we can,” Major Mccracken said.
Speaking on Monday at Loldaiga training grounds where the Batuk was displaying its training maneuvers to the press, major Mccracken added that his army is also tasked with cleaning up used and unexploded ammunitions after every training exercise in order to minimize dangers of explosion that might harm or kill residents, livestock and wildlife.
“We are constantly engaging local communities through our range wardens by sensitizing them on the dangers of munitions left behind after trainings and that they should not handle them but instead report to authorities upon sighting them on the fields as they graze livestock,” major Mccracken added.
He added the British military also ensures that there is no human activity and wildlife on the training grounds before embarking on their drills in order to ensure there are no casualties.
The sentiments by the Batuk officer however comes in the backdrop of a case pitting the military and more than 1,500 locals from Loldaiga area who moved to court last year seeking compensation from Batuk after a huge inferno destroyed 12,000 acres in the area as the military drills were taking place.
According to the residents the March 2021 fire is believed to have been caused by explosives used in the training grounds.
The high court in Nanyuki early last month directed that a liaison committee between Kenya and United Kingdom governments be formed to determine the compensation modalities by both countries for the victims. The committee gave the Lolldaiga community 60 days to seek compensation for the fire.
By Martin Munyi