1,400 ACRES

MPs tour disputed Del Monte land after locals dismiss CS Kuria claim

Association distances itself from talks, says it was not involved in the meeting with the CS

In Summary

• Kandara Residents Association has been fighting for part of the land claiming that the land was forcefully acquired from their fore fathers by white settlers.

• Trade CS Moses Kuria met county leadership and a group of Kandara residents over the issue on Monday.

Kandara Residents Association Geoffrey Kairu at a previous event.
Kandara Residents Association Geoffrey Kairu at a previous event.
Image: Alice Waithera

@Alicewangechi

MPs were Thursday scheduled to visit Kandara subcounty in Murang'a on a fact-finding mission on the disputed Del Monte land.

This comes days after residents dismissed Trade CS Moses Kuria's meeting that claimed to have resolved the dispute.

Members of the Lands Committee of the National Assembly that is chaired by North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko were to meet members of Kandara Residents Association that has waged a protracted battle to have part of the land occupied by the company ceded to them.

CS Kuria had met with a group of Kandara residents over the matter.

In the meeting on Monday attended by Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata and speaker Johnson Mukuha, it was decided that a technical committee would be established to help resolve the dispute out of court.

This would allow the 1,400 acres ceded by the company to the county government two years ago as part of its lease renewal process to be used for developmental purposes.

Among the projects proposed to be set up in the land are the Sh1 billion Exports Processing Zone, an industrial park, a modern hospital and a county aggregation centre.

On Saturday, Kuria who had accompanied nominated MP Sabina Chege during a food donation exercise said of the five counties benefiting from the EPZ, only Murang’a was facing land wrangles over the project.

Officials of Kandara Residents Association.
Officials of Kandara Residents Association.
Image: Alice Waithera

Kuria underscored the need for court cases filed against the ceded Del Monte land to be withdrawn to allow the projects to commence.

But the association has distanced itself from the talks, saying it was not involved in the meeting with the CS that was also attended some MCAs.

The association’s secretary general Geoffrey Kairu said they do not know the people who met the Cabinet Secretary but noted that none of his members was involved.

The association has been fighting to have a part of the company’s land ceded to its members since 2016 claiming that the land was grabbed from the forefathers by the white settlers.

Kairu said the group will continue agitating for a section of the land that he said cannot be used for development as it is subject to a petition it has filed in the Court of Appeal.

The court then suspended the process of Del Monte’s lease renewal process until the petition is heard and determined.

Last week, the association rejected any use of the land for developmental purposes during a public participation forum organised by the county government.

Kandara Residents Association secretary general and organising secretary Florence Mwaura.
Kandara Residents Association secretary general and organising secretary Florence Mwaura.
Image: Alice Waithera

The forum, officiated by county chief lands officer Josephine Wanjiru and attended by MCAs Elizabeth Wanjiru (Kimorori) and Stephen Mukara (Muruka), sought to get views on the establishment of a hospital.

Wanjiru explained to residents that the county government plans to construct a Sh200 million level 5 hospital on 100 acres.

The hospital will cover Kabati and Kenol areas on the Thika-Kenol-Sagana highway.

Residents were previously being forced to seek healthcare services from private facilities while many chose to travel to Thika Level 5 Hospital in Kiambu county.

But the association cautioned the county against rushing to establish development projects on the land before the dispute is resolved.

The fight for the land was started by former Governor Mwangi wa Iria and former Senator Kembi Gitura who wanted 3,000 acres of the company's land ceded to the county.

The two said the land occupied by the company is too prime and the ceded land should be along the highway to pave the way for the establishment of a modern city that would provide employment for thousand of residents.

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