Kenya: Murang'a Farmers Up in Arms Over Kerra's Acquisition of Private Land

A row is brewing in Murang'a County after aggrieved residents decried the unlawful acquisition of their land for a road project.

Six neighbours in Kamuiru village in Maragua Wednesday accused the national government of evicting them from their farms without following due process.

Documents at the registry show the land is owned by Julius Kihato, Nahashon Ndung'u, Naomi Wanjiku, Esbon Mucheru, Habel Karanja and Jendro Irungu.

They reported to the police about a campaign of attacks and threats from unknown individuals forcing them to drop their stand.

"There appears to be a systematic scheme hatched to instil fear in us to a point we surrender the land to the schemers so that they can grab it and sub-divide it into plots and sell them off," Mr Karanja said.

Effected in a hurry

Interestingly, the agency responsible -- Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) -- has admitted it erred, but blamed the mess on Maragua MP Mary wa Maua.

Murang'a South Kerra engineer Shadrack Muoki said their decision was hastily implemented without the participation of the six families.

"We proceeded with the project as a result of public participation that demanded a road out of the densely populated area. It was, however, effected in a hurry to a point that we did not draw a written agreement with the farmers," he said.

"The area MP, as the patron of Kerra, was the one overseeing the agreements and we do not know how it ended up that some of the families were left out."

Mr Muoki said they are willing to go back to the original plan, but was noncommittal on when that would happen.

"Indeed, the map shows the access road was made where it was not planned but we relied on mutual agreement of the villagers chaired by their MP to send our tractors and gravel to the area. We are willing to revert to the earlier plan as long as there's a consensus," he said.

The families unsuccessfully sought the intervention of the MP in a letter dated January 18.

"This is to bring to your attention that on or about the month of July 2020, a contractor cut Iganjo road and which substantially encroached onto our land. This serves as a formal claim for compensation for the damages the said encroachment caused... that we demand the removal of the gravel from our land and leverage to the original form to allow resumption of our farming activities," the letter stated.

It was copied to Kerra and the DCC, who are yet to respond.

Area chief Rufus Mwangi wrote to district surveyor Peter Njeru on September 7 last year seeking details on the project to ascertain whether the government followed due process to acquire the land.

"They are the proprietors of the above referenced parcels of land... They are complaining that there has been an encroachment onto the parcels... Kindly assist them," the chief's letter stated.

Mr Njeru surveyed the land on October 19 last year and confirmed it belonged to the six families. He issued them with a map that showed the access road was an encroachment onto their land.

Murang'a South Police boss Anthony Keter admitted said the complaints are being investigated.

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