Portland demolitions: Three months on, murram mining continues on EAPCC land


A tractor loads trucks with murram at the East African Portland Cement Company land on  February 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • To dump the soil, trucks pay Sh500 per trip.
  • The dumping is said to take place at night.
  • A truck of murram issols at Sh3,000.

Three months after the demolition of buildings on the (EAPCC) land in Mavoko sub-County, unscrupulous people are now minting millions of shillings by mining murram and dumping black cotton soil from nearby construction sites on the land. 

The demolitions, which began on October 13, 2023, amid heavy security presence, spelt doom for at least 3,000 homeowners for the next 10 days as bulldozers pulled down mansions, schools, entertainment joints and churches.

The Aimi Ma Lukenya (AML) Association, which claimed ownership of 4,298 acres of land, had been involved in a court battle with EAPCC management at the Machakos Land and Environment Court.

On October 9, 2023, the Machakos Court Judge, Lady Justice A. Nyukuri, declared EAPCC the legal owner of the land and dismissed the suit filed by AML Association. The demolitions began four days later. Three leaders of the AML Association were subsequently arrested and charged in a Nairobi court.

After the demolitions, scrap metal and other building materials were cleared within days and trenches were dug at several entry points to prevent further encroachment.

Murram mining

Heavy murram excavation on East African Portland Cement Company land in Mavoko sub-County in Machakos on February 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

However, it is alleged that the ongoing murram mining and dumping of black cotton soil on the land is a well-orchestrated scheme by unscrupulous individuals, some EAPCC staff and police officers attached to the cement processor.

On Friday, Nation dozens of trucks were waiting to be loaded by two tractors. 

"We have express authority from Portland management to mine the murram... we can organise for you, depending on how many trucks you need at Sh3,000 per truck," said a tractor operator.

Over 100 structures built on Portland Cement land in Mavoko destroyed

One of the two guards from a private company told the Nation that mining had been going on for the past two weeks from 6am to 6pm.

"Our job is to keep a record of all the trucks. Every day they collect at least 60-80 trucks of murram," he said.

The loaded trucks offloaded the murram at a private land in Athi River township. 

Portland demolition

A bulldozer flattening a house in East African Portland Land in Mavoko on October 14, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The mining of murram leaves huge pits on the land. This adds to dozens of holes that were left by 'squatters' on the parcel before their eviction.

The mining goes on despite heavily armed Administration Police officers patrolling the land.

"Since the demolitions, a few individuals have been minting millions of shillings from the sale of murram every month," claimed an informant privy to the operations.

On another part of the land, the illegal dumping of topsoil has been going on for several weeks. 

Nation has established that the soil is brought in from several construction sites in the neighbouring Kitengela town. To dump the soil, trucks pay Sh500 per trip. The dumping is said to take place at night.

Mavoko demolition

A security officer manning part of the demolition scares some of the residents in the ongoing demolition of houses on Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos county on October 17, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mr Joel Kioko, a victim of recent demolitions, described the situation as painful for victims of government-orchestrated demolition.

"Were we evicted to pave the way for murram excavation and dumping of soil? It's so painful. How will the government build affordable houses on such degraded land?" wondered Mr Kioko.

East African Portland Cement Company's Public Relations Manager Pamela Muthui distanced the firm’s management from the excavation of murram, saying a tender was issued to an individual to remove ‘heaps of limestone waste.’

"The individual applied through the tender process to remove a heap of limestone waste on the land but not to excavate murram," she told the Nation.

EAPCC is seeking to sell land worth Sh15.6 billion as a short-term measure to turn around the cash-strapped cement manufacturer.

Land grabbing

An excavator demolishes a building built on the disputed Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos County on October 18, 2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Apart from regularising its portion of 907 acres, the company has earmarked 13 plots of 50 acres for sale to the Kenya Wildlife Service for a wildlife migration corridor. The company is in the process of finalising the Deed of Settlement between itself and the government to surrender LR NO 10425 measuring 4,272 acres valued at Sh25 billion earmarked for affordable housing.

A further 1,000 acres will be gazetted as an export promotion zone. The wildlife migration corridor, affordable housing and export promotion zone land fall under the land previously occupied by locals before the demolitions in October 2023.