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Land disputes cloud launch of mega projects : The Standard




Protestors demonstrate at the Satellite area along the Maai Mahiu-Narok highway earlier this year. The group wanted answers around the ownership of the Utheri wa Lari farm in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The launch of multi-billion-shilling projects in Maai Mahiu has triggered a series of land disputes in the area.

On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the construction of a Sh6.9 billion inland container depot near Maai Mahiu town.
At least 1,000 acres of land have been gazetted for construction of an industrial park.
Earlier in the day, the President had inaugurated a passenger train from Nairobi to Naivasha, with four stations at Ongata Rongai, Ngong, Maai Mahiu and Suswa, and one interchange station at Nachu.
But even before the fanfare accompanying the launch of the projects dies down, residents are waiting on the Government to address several land disputes that these massive investments have stirred.
Some disputes date back to the 80s and are already in court, while others were filed as recently as last week.
Scramble for land
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Among the land-buying companies caught up in the disputes are Kedong Ranch, where the proposed industrial park will be located, Utheri wa Lari, Nyakinyua Farm and Ng’ati Sacco.
The chairman of Utheri wa Lari farm, Stephen Muiru, claimed that some of the land disagreements were being stoked by “outsiders”.
“A majority of those claiming to own land around this area are outsiders who want to reap where they never planted,” he said.
He added that it had become difficult to kick out encroachers from the farm’s 22,000 acres.
His  sentiments were echoed by the former chairman of the defunct Nakuru County Council, John Murigu, who said there was an urgent need to address the issues around land.
“The planned construction of the industrial park has increased the scramble for land in this area,” he said.
The dispute has divided affected residents down the middle. 
On one side is a group that has been in court for years and had agreed to a 4,000-acre compensation offered by Kedong ranch. The group claims those opposed to the resettlement deal are “impostors”.
Ongoing projects
“Kedong agreed to compensate us with 4,000 acres, which we agreed to, but some outsiders now want to ride on this,” said Mike Roka, an elder from the Kitet-Sission community.
Another group, led by Narok East MP Lemanken Aramat, has declined the offer and is instead demanding 12,000 acres.
Mr Aramat claims that more than 10,000 families would be affected by the project, and that the proposed 4,000 acres will not be enough.
“This will see tens of families living around the gazetted land locked out,” he said.
Naivasha Sub-County Commissioner Mathioya Mbogo said the number of land disputes have risen in the area, but added that this would not affect ongoing projects.
During a recent visit to the area, Governor Lee Kinyanjui announced that the county was working with the Government to address compensation issues and resolve emerging disputes, saying these should not derail the dry port project.


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Related Topics
Maai MahiuUhuru KenyattaInland container depot

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