Thousands of families face eviction as the Nyandarua county government moves to repossess grabbed public utility land.
Among the grabbed and encroached land are 260 dams, roads, and other public land whose ownership is in the hands of private developers, hindering infrastructural development and expansion of essential services to the residents.
Also frustrated by the encroachment is the implementation of UN-Habitat-funded Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP) targeting eight colonial villages in the county.
Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia ordered the repossession and directed the county Land ministry to ensure that all public offices have their land documents.
"I direct the department of land and planning to survey and demarcate public land and ensure all county government land titles are released to the relevant department for custody. Work with the community to ensure roads encroachment is reduced and the public is advised in advance," the governor ordered.
"Reclaim through survey over 260 dams owned by the government, which have either been grabbed or encroached, digitise and automate the land search and processes, develop policy on land development within the county and develop and implement land zoning within the county."
Ongoing demarcation of dams
Water, Tourism and Environment executive member Ms Milka Wanjiru said the ongoing demarcation of dams will establish the number of families to be evicted but added that they could be in their thousands.
"We cannot say the exact number of families to be affected, but I can tell you it's a big number. We will only be able to establish the figure once demarcation is done because the dams vary in size, measuring between five and 40 acres," said Ms Wanjiru.
"You will find that a dam like Ya Mumbi was originally 40 acres but it is today less than five acres with houses and fencing running through the water bodies. The water cannot have moved to the farms. It's farmers who encroached and stole part of the land."
She said that expansion of the dams, meant for irrigation and supply of clean water for domestic use, is frustrated by the encroachments, denying the larger communities the essential commodity and services.
"Some of the dams pose a risk to the residents in case of heavy rains. The roads leading to the water bodies are equally encroached on and it would be impossible for any rescue mission in case the dams burst. They need to be rehabilitated for proper use and safety of the residents," said the executive member.
A piece of land meant for the construction of a dispensary in Ol Kalou town has also been grabbed.
Health facility handling all cases
This has made the cost of treatment for the residents expensive, and caused congestion at JM Memorial Hospital in Ol Kalou town, the only health facility handling all cases, some of which should be treated at the dispensary free of charge.
With the demarcation and repossessions under the land, housing and physical planning, marginalisation and lack of titling for various land parcels are being addressed to enable full utilisation of the land as valuable factors of production.
"The department has facilitated the development of Ol Kalou town plots through implementation of a task force report. In collaboration with the national government, repossession of the land will pave the way for affordable housing. The department will partner with UN-Habitat to actualise KISIP where the eight colonial villages will have infrastructure upgraded," said Governor Kimemia.