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PROTESTS as locals give govt ultimatum over Kibwezi-Kitui road land compensation

 A section of residents from Nzambani Ward in Kitui East, Kitui County have given the government a one-month ultimatum to pay them their land compensation dues failure to which they will take a legal action. 

Kitui residents demonstrate for compensation of their land the government built road on but never payed them. Photo/JOSEPHINE MWENDE

 This came as the residents held protests to demand compensation for their land that was taken by the government to pave way for a major road which passes via the area.

The group on Tuesday held protests in Kitui town before proceeding to the County Headquarters offices as they demanded to be addressed by the County Commissioner Mr. Thomas Sankei over slowed compensation process of land used for construction of Kibwezi-Kitui road.

The locals decried of prolonged delays for their payment by the National Lands Commission over construction of the multimillion road project which is being undertaken by the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha).    

The aggrieved group carried placards bearing various messages which demanded for their rights to be addressed by the authorities.  “Tunataka fidia ya ardhi zetu, haki yetu (We want our compensation. It is our rights),”one of the placards read.

The group was however addressed by the County Assistant Commissioner Ms Josephine Kihara since the County Commissioner was not available to address their grievances.

Govt laxity

Addressing journalists after the meet with Ms Kihara, the locals led by their Chairperson Joseph Kimanthi lamented over the government’s laxity to remit their compensation dues into the accounts close to two years after the road was constructed on their land.

“It is absurd that we are yet to get our compensation even after the government took our land to construct the road. We surrendered our land including our houses and yet there is nothing we gained out of it,” charged Mr. Kimanthi. 

A protestor holding a placard demanding compensation of land where Kibwezi-Kitui road passes. Residents marched to the office of Kitui County Commissioner to air their grievances. Photo/JOSEPHINE MWENDE

They further blamed the local leadership on what they described as “their failure to address our genuine concerns” even after the locals presented them to the leaders.

“We presented our issues to our elected leaders but none of those whom we approached has shown commitment to assist us. I think they threw the papers I gave them under the table,” he lamented.

The locals threatened to reject their current leadership in the upcoming general elections failure to address the land compensation matter. “We wonder whether those leaders are coming to ask for votes from us yet again while we are yet to get compensated. We vow to reject such leaders when time for voting comes,” Mr. Kimanthi reiterated.

While addressing the agitated residents, Ms Kihara said the government had already started the compensation and reassured of its commitment to expedite the process.  She said so far, the government had already paid out Sh. 101 million as compensation to some of the affected families.  

“We have already started the process of compensating those who were affected by the road. Quite a number of you have been compensated. The rest will be compensated because the money is there,” she said.

But she was quick to point out that the delay was partly occasioned by failure by some of the prospective beneficiaries to submit the requisite documents such as signed award letters, search certificates and land succession documents among others for the process of compensation to go on.

The highway which is part of the Northern Corridor – a Kenya’s Vision 2030 infrastructural and economic blueprint started in 2016 after the launch by President Uhuru. The section between Kibwezi and Kitui towns has already been completed easing transportation for the people in the county and the neighbouring counties of Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Kirinyaga and Nyeri who are now using the route to access the Coastal Kenya towns. However, construction is still ongoing for the section between Kabati and Mbondoni which will open up the far North of the county to the headquarters – Kitui town.  


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