• Governor Wamatangi says the first task will be determining the actual acreage of the ceded land.
• Says the land will be properly planned and developed, and this will play a pivotal role in expanding Thika town and elevating it to a city
The Kiambu government is planning to build 50,000 affordable housing units on land ceded by Del Monte Kenya Limited.
Governor Kimani Wamatangi said President William Ruto approved the construction of the units in Kiambu county.
He said his administration has started acquiring the 697 acres that Del Monte surrendered to the county government and elaborate plans are underway to have all requisite land ownership documents processed.
Speaking during a tour of the firm, Wamatangi said the first task will be determining the actual acreage of the land.
In September 2018, during the signing of an MoU between Del Monte and the Kiambu government, it was revealed that the ceded land was 635 acres.
The signing was presided over by firm managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas and then Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.
However, in October 2018, former Thika MP Patrick Wainaina disputed the acreage, claiming the surrendered land was about 1,000 acres
“The land surrendered is four parcels and we will be finding out if that’s all the land that was ceded. We will be seeking answers on the entire process of surrendering and whether the security of the land in terms of ownership by the county government was featured in the process,” Wamatangi said.
The governor said his administration will reach out to relevant authorities, including the National Land Commission and the Ministry of Lands, to expedite processing of title deeds for the four blocks.
“Once we secure the land ownership documents, we will initiate public participation meetings with the local communities so we can agree on how best we can utilise the land to serve their interests," Wamatangi said.
"We want to put up vital facilities, including the affordable housing units, hospitals, schools and sports facilities among others that will be of benefit to locals.”
The county chief said the land will be properly planned and developed, and this will play a pivotal role in expanding Thika town and elevating it to a city status.
“We have an elaborate plan of developing Thika town into a smart city and this land will be of great help since it will harbor vital amenities that will help our cause,” he said.
“Besides putting up good affordable houses, we will be constructing modern markets in areas such as Kilimambogo and Gatuanyaga, which will in turn create employment opportunities for residents.”
Wamatangi’s plan for the land is likely to face hurdles as a lobby group, Kandara Residents Association, is laying claim to the parcel.
The group, which has been in countless court battles with the company and both Kiambu and Murang’a governments, has been pursuing allocation of part of the land occupied by Del Monte.
The group comprises of people whose families suffered during the colonial era when they were dispossessed of their land, which the colonialists converted to large-scale sisal farming before resorting to pineapple growing.
A good number of them are squatters from Gachagi, Umoja and Madharau villages in Thika, while the rest are from Kandara subcounty in Murang’a.
In a Gazette Notice dated March 1, 2019, NLC said 70 per cent of any excess land ceded by Del Monte should be given to members of the community and 30 per cent to the respective county government.
Edited by A.N