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September 24, 2018

Residents block road to force the government pay widow for land

Githunguri residents dig a tunnel to block Githunguri-Passenga road on Monday./NDICHU WAINAINA
Githunguri residents dig a tunnel to block Githunguri-Passenga road on Monday./NDICHU WAINAINA

Residents have dug a trench to block a major county road demanding compensation for a 95-year-old widow whose land was hived off for the road.

They dug a three-foot deep trench across the Passenga-Githunguri road in Githunguri Village, Ol kalou, in Nyandarua county.

The villagers accused the county government of Nyandarua of failing to compensate Elizabeth Waithira.

The move disrupts transportation for hundreds of people who use the road to access the Nyahururu–Gilgil road. The government hived off close to two acres belonging to Waithira’s husband Laban Karanja for the Passenga-Githunguri road in 1984.

Karanja died in 1995 before he was compensated for the land.

In 2015, then Rurii MCA Wahome Kamoche urged the Nyandarua county to compensate Karanja’s widow Sh800,000.

The county assembly approved the initial Sh200,000 in the 2017/2018 budget. The remainder, Sh600,000, would be paid in the current 2018/2019 budget.

But no compensation was ever made. Instead, on June 14, the widow received a letter from the county director of survey warning her against encroaching on the road or its reserves.

The family and residents claim there is a plot to embezzle the compensation. They blocked the road on Monday and defied efforts by Githunguri assistant chief Pascal Gathima and Rurii ward administrator Jack Ndung’u to stop them.

“Our rights have been violated. We want our grandmother to be compensated as was promised when the road was cut from her land,” said Laban Gitau, Waithira’s grandson.

Veronica Wanjiru, Waithira’s daughter, said: “The government is not poor and therefore should not steal from the poor. We are only defending what is ours.”

Residents who joined the family to block the road said they do not mind going to jail as long as the old lady gets justice.

“We are saying the road must be closed until the money is paid,” said John Muturi, a resident.

Rurii MCA John Mburu said he pushed for Waithira’s compensation but the CEC for Lands Lawrence Mukundi advised him this cannot happen as it would raise an audit query.

Mburu said the Sh200,000 allocated for initial payment was returned to the Treasury and would be spent on an alternative project.

“Those talking of a plot to steal the money need to know I don’t care. They can go to the governor to ask him to pay if he will handle the audit query,” he said.

Lands CEC Mukundi admitted there was an initial plan to compensate for the land. However, a ground survey shows the existing subdivisions legally necessitate an access road and therefore no compensation can be made.

He said the family could only compensated if the land remained in its 1984 status and was not subdivided.

“It is a question of letting these people know you cannot buy a road that already exist. The government cannot do that,” he said.

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