WAITING FOR COMPENSATION

Uneasy calm as Dongo Kundu project victims await Matiang’i word

Some families expect as much as Sh52 million but fear they will gate far less.

In Summary
  • About 300 residents yet to be paid a shilling for their land taken by the government for the project on Monday cried foul.
  • Matiang’i on Wednesday said though the project is on course, there are two major challenges that the contractor is faced with, one of which is the compensation.
Riziki Athman and Saumu Juma show the custard apple tree they plated on their land about to be taken by Dongo Kundu project on Monday.
OURS: Riziki Athman and Saumu Juma show the custard apple tree they plated on their land about to be taken by Dongo Kundu project on Monday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Saumu Juma and Zawadi Chiponda on the graves of their loved ones on the land that has been taken by the Dongo Kundu project.
EVIDENCE: Saumu Juma and Zawadi Chiponda on the graves of their loved ones on the land that has been taken by the Dongo Kundu project.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Mgala Mwadeka and Mejuma Mwadeka display ownership documents for their land in Kambini, Tsunza, on Monday.
PROOF: Mgala Mwadeka and Mejuma Mwadeka display ownership documents for their land in Kambini, Tsunza, on Monday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

There is uneasy calm at Kambini village in Tsunza, Kinango sub-county, after Interior CS Fred Matiag’i assured those affected by the Dongo Kundu project they will be paid within a month.

About 300 residents yet to be paid a shilling for their land taken by the government for the project on Monday cried foul, saying bulldozers were closing in on them yet they have nowhere else to go.

Despite expecting as much as Sh52 million for land take by the government, the residents are increasingly feeling hopeless.

Their trees, including coconut and custard apples, have been uprooted and, worse, the graves where their loved ones were interred in the 1950s are about to be destroyed.

Riziki Athman said the government took six of their 15 acres of land for which they were to be compensated Sh52 million.

“However, when the award letter came, the amount written was only Sh16 million and it was for a parcel of land with another plot number,” said Riziki.

She said one of her relatives, who works in the Kwale county government, is responsible for the mess they find themselves in.

“The man has sub-divided our land without our consent and sold part of it to wealthy businesspeople,” said Athman.

However, Matiang’i’s assurance on Wednesday has given them hope.

“We are now at least sleeping easy because the government has finally responded to our pleas,” Athman said on phone Saturday.

She however noted that this is not the first time that a government official is giving them assurances.

“Previously, we have seen the DCC give us similar assurance only to see some of our neighbours evicted even before compensation. That is our worry,” said Athman.

“This time it is a more senior government official who has assured us and at least we have more trust in him because he is closer to President Uhuru than the others.”

Matiang’i on Wednesday said though the project is on course, there are two major challenges that the contractor is faced with, one of which is the compensation issue, which he said they are dealing with immediately.

The CS, who toured the Dongo Kundu project in the company of the National Development Implementation, Coordination and Communication Committee, said the residents should not worry adding that the government will compensate them in due course.

“We are actually done sorting out issues of land compensation for up to 75 or 80 per cent of persons affected by the project.

“(For) the small number that is left, the regional security team is seized of it. The National Land Commission is on it and it will all be sorted out inside one month,” said Matiang’i.

He said tax wavers for the Japanese contractors, for which there is an agreement in place, will be tackled as soon as possible.

“I have already called my colleague (Transport CS James) Macharia and we are going to sit down tomorrow with our colleague the Minister for Finance and we will sort it out,” said Matiang’i.

Saumu Juma, a resident, said her father owned the land on which she was born and brought up.

“We are the ones who planted these coconut trees. But now somebody is trying to elbow us out of our inheritance,” said Juma.

She called on Matiang’i to help stop the sale of their land while there still is a dispute.

Jumaa Mwinyi said the land they live in was left to him and his four remaining siblings to take care of. It is about four acres.

“But now strangers are coming to us saying they bought the land. We are being told to move out. How can our land be sold without our consent?” he posed.

Gandini assistant chief Munga Ndegwa said they are yet to get complaints from the residents.

However, Riziki says they have been to all government offices including the chief’s, the deputy county commissioner's and the MP’s.

“We have made all kinds of follow-ups but we are told to wait. We cannot wait because soon our whole land will go,” said Riziki.

Mghala Mwadeka, an octogenarian who has lived his whole life in the village, says he has nowhere else to go.

“If the government wants to take our land, then it is only fair that we are compensated before we leave. Evicting us using strangers is not fair,” said Mwadeka.

Edited by Henry Makori

Ongoing construction of the Dongo Kundu road that passes through Kambini village in Tsunza.
ONGOING WORKS Ongoing construction of the Dongo Kundu road that passes through Kambini village in Tsunza.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex o Weddesday.
ASSURING Interior CS Fred Matiang'i at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex o Weddesday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO