Dongo Kundu compensation sparks discontent among locals

Dongo Kundu Bypass

A tunnel along the Dongo Kundu Bypass. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The establishment of the Sh1.4 billion Dongo Kundu Compensation Scheme has sparked widespread discontent among locals, who are claiming that its primary beneficiaries are land cartels and their allies.

They are demanding that the awards and land allocated to non-residents be redistributed to residents and praised the government for halting the exercise.

There has been controversy surrounding the settlement, including claims of dishonest authorities conspiring with land grabbers.

Philip Nzioka, a resident from the area, pointed out that rather than rectify the situation, the National Land Commission (NLC) has exacerbated the issues at hand.

“The NLC's handling of the compensation matter puzzled us. For instance, someone who originally owned a five-acre plot received compensation for a land portion measuring 50 by 100 meters and an award ranging between Sh300,000 and Sh400,000. This was deemed unfair, especially for people that had established permanent residence on the land,” said Mr Nzioka, who also highlighted considerable irregularities in the process.

He argued for a review of the resettlement size to be increased to a minimum of four acres.

Another resident, Bernard Sivai, said the issue arose after dishonest officials allocated land to non-residents of Dongo Kundu in exchange for money, much to the dismay of bona fide residents.

He called for a new team to oversee the compensation process and ensure those currently in charge are stripped of any authority to subvert it.

“Since the President pledged to intervene in the matter, can he ensure we get compensation that is fair? Many non-residents were awarded money and allocated land that did not belong to them. So this matter should be prioritised [and dispensed with] so we can settle and move on,” said Lilian Nabwire, a resident.

For Juma Mohamed, the Mombasa Special Economic Zone-Dongo Kundu project was well received by the community, but the anomalies regarding compensation were impeding its progress.

This month while in Mombasa, the Head of State called for a comprehensive audit of beneficiaries of compensation for displacements to allow Dongo Kundu project to proceed. President William Ruto directed the National Land Commission (NLC) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to immediately deal with and finalise the compensation of Mombasa Special Economic Zone-Dongo Kundu and ensure the rightfully affected persons received their payments.

An October inquiry report by the Department of Lands chaired by Joash Nyamoko found out that in 2020 the NLC documented a total of 1,759 beneficiaries as the project-affected persons. The committee noted that KPA and NLC jointly verified the list of beneficiaries and shortlisted 1,356 as bona fide beneficiaries for compensation while 403 were pending verification.

It was then decided that KPA and NLC resolve the discrepancies in the list and submit a fresh one for disbursement of the Sh1.4 billion to the 1,759 project-affected persons.

The committee noted a category of persons who were not in physical occupation of land, had not only made developments on the land either by farming or constructing a house, and who made claims to tracts of land and were therefore classified as squatters. The committee ruled the squatters unlawful and not eligible for compensation.

The project-affected persons were to be settled in six villages, Dongo Kundu (394), Mwangala (374), Mrongondoni (205), Kaya Mtongwe (253), Siji (83), and Mbuta (450).