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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The untold story of Athi River unending land sale saga

Syokimau/Mavoko Community Association and Kathama Welfare Association who have entered into a land sale agreement with the East African Portland Cement Company are up in arms against some land grabbers.
The furious two community association groups in Athi River have accused some senior government officials of trying to grab their land.
Speaking to Weekly Citizen, the more than 4,000 community members claim that some senior government officers are using Administration Police officers to harass them.
The Syokimau/Mavoko Community Association chairman Pius Musembi alleged they are often arrested on the property and accused of trespass despite having papers from the East African Portland Cement and from the ministry of Lands.
Musembi displayed some  documents in which the EAPC’s board of directors approved the sale of the portion of land LR 8784/4 on May 26 2011.
In another letter drawn by Letangule and Company Advocates on March 20 2013, Musembi claims the group paid part of the amount for purchase of the said parcel of land.
 “We hereby enclose a copy of Real Time Gross Transfer being a transfer of the sum of Sh1,200,000 to your account at Chase Bank Ltd being part of commitment towards deposit of the purchase price by our client, Mavoko Syokimau Community Association,” the letter reads.
The ministry of Land is said to have given consent for the sale of the land through another letter of January 8 2013 according to documents in our procession.
 “As the matter has been duly approved by the board of directors, I have no objection to the said transaction subject to concurrence by the ministry of Industrialisation,” the letter signed by then Commissioner of Lands Zablon Mabea reads.
What irks the members more is the fact that police arrest them of trespass but when they are taken to the cells, the police start contacting the company to help them build their case.
“In fact, police arrest us as we survey the land and then ask Portland to give them documents so that they can charge us,” said the Kathama chairman Peter Mwandia.
The Kathama group boss disclosed that Portland has always declined to honour their request.
Mwandia added that a taskforce was formed to find out the extension of irregular land allocation in Athi River after it became apparent that many people lay claim to government land on premises of fake title deeds.
 “The taskforce report said that irregular land appropriation and illegal acquisition have seen proliferation of fake land ownership documents,” Mwandia told reporters.
 The report recommended the urgent arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. Athi River has attracted many land buyers from Nairobi and other urban centres surrounding it.
“Once sold, the same piece of land is resold to other buyers and more buyers afterwards,” said the taskforce.
The members who are laying claim to 1,330 acres of land have accused some of the senior government officers and politicians of having vested personal interest in the disputed land.
However, Machakos AP commander Joseph Keitany warned that the two groups have no legitimate claim on the piece of land.
He said the land belongs to the government and his officers went there to maintain law and order and prevent the group from illegally occupying the land.
“The land belongs to Portland. You cannot do subdivision on government land. You must get consent from the lands board,” the AP boss said
Recently, Athi River deputy county commissioner Kodeck Makori sounded alarm over sale of land in the industrial town
He warned that land cartels have caused fear and those involved will face the full force of the law.
Four years ago, a taskforce was appointed to investigate controversial land transactions in the area.

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