Kenya: Locals Fault Ministry in Ancestral Land Dispute

19 October 2020

The Ministry of Lands is on the spot over a prime ancestral land in Ewuaso Kidong, Kajiado West, following simmering ownership wrangles pitting residents against seven individuals.

The bone of contention is 4,500 acres along Kajiado-Nakuru boundary, which is currently occupied by Maasais.

The community says some unscrupulous officials from the ministry have been colluding with land grabbers to produce fake documents for their land.

Trouble for the more than 900 families started in 2017 during the compensation process for the second phase of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (Ketraco) to pave way for power masts wayleave to Suswa substation.

During the compensation,the Maasai natives under Kitet Maasai Community, who had resided in the land for more than 30 years, realised there was a second group claiming payout of the same land; LR N0 8395.

Jigsaw process

The two warring groups were compensated for the same piece of land, exposing Ketraco's soft underbelly in compensation matters. Ketraco Managing Director Farnades Barasa did not pick calls or responded to texts for a comment.

Locals say since then, a jigsaw process to reclaim their ancestral land began amid threats from powerful government officers through their conduits.

Speaking during an elders' crisis meeting at the village over the weekend, the locals decried injustice in their quest to seek justice.

"At one point a bishop from Rift Valley acting on behalf of the other group convened a meeting at the Ministry of Land Nairobi offices. Threats were issued to compel us to surrender the lion's share of our land, but we never ceded grounds,"said Mr Joseph Toris, a resident.

The wrangles gave birth to a protracted court battle in four counties, with goal posts shifting continuously. Residents cite this as a well-orchestrated scheme to disenfranchise them.

Unscrupulous land officers

They want the ministry to intervene, claiming some unscrupulous land officers have been colluding with grabbers to produce fake documents.

"We want Lands CS Farida Karoney to ensure justice prevails. Some forces are rooting to evict us from our forefathers' land near the proposed standard gauge railway,"said 75-year-old Jeremiah Maishontoi, an elder.

According to documents seen by the Nation, while the seven individuals registered as Kedong Ng'ombe ranch limited claim to have been allocated the land in 1998, the company was registered in 2002 and a certificate of title processed in 2019.

A spot check indicates that the individuals do not own a single structure on the disputed land next to Uwuaso Kedong Ranch.

Kajiado Lands Executive Hamilton Parseina said cartels in the county have been targeting large chunks of land using fake ownership documents.

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