Residents cry foul as land payout drags on for years

Eldoret town bypass

A view of Eldoret town bypass on at Maili Tisa in Uasin Gishu County in this picture taken on October 25, 2018.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Residents wanted the legislators to stop the National Land Commission (NLC) from compensating individuals they claimed to be on government land. 
  • The Senate transport committee in 2018 dashed residents’ hopes after it gave the project a clean bill of health.

When President Kenyatta launched the Sh5 billion Eldoret bypass in August 2017, at Cheplaskei, expectations for compensation were high among the residents the project would displace.

But three-plus years down the line, residents are yet to get a cent with claims that influential people are meddling with the project.

“Some leaders are using proxies to seek compensation. Some want to use our money to do business,” a resident said.

Locals raised the alarm over more than 10 people in the list, who are outside the bypass corridor, but have processed fake title deeds to get the lion’s share of Sh400 million meant to compensate residents at Leseru and Maili Tisa, about 20km from Eldoret town.

It emerged that Leseru Tebeson Farmers’ Society had obtained the title deed illegally, on claims it represented the more than 100 squatters who are demanding compensation, yet the Leseru-Maili Tisa land belongs to government.

In a petition which had been addressed to the Senate, residents wanted the legislators to stop the National Land Commission (NLC) from compensating individuals they claimed to be on government land and investigate the infiltration of the project by illegal settlers.

The Senate transport committee in 2018 dashed residents’ hopes after it gave the project a clean bill of health. When the Senate team had its sitting in the region in September 2018, chairman Kimani Wamatangi threatened to suspend the project’s execution on compensation and employment of locals’ grounds.

The senators recommended that in future when the government wants to displace people for a project to start, contractors should not be paid before compensation of the affected landowners is done.

Compensation

“As a committee, we decided that it is important that we not only reprimand, but also direct that in future, the government should consider compensation at the conceptualisation of a construction project,” the report says.

Affected residents accused the Senate committee of allowing the project to go ahead without full payment.

“When we took a petition to the Senate in 2018, we had hopes that the legislators will not side with NLC and KeNHA, but keep them on their toes. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to side with our oppressors,” said Simon Samoei, chairperson of the Cheplaskei-Leseru land owners’ association.

Deputy President William Ruto while attending the burial of former world hurdles champion Nicholas Bett at Simat in 2018 asked residents who will be displaced to pave the way for the project to soften their demands to allow construction of the bypass to start.

The DP appealed to the affected families to be flexible enough to allow the government complete the project on time, adding that they will be compensated.

The conspiracy has continued with the affected landowners not knowing whether it is NLC or KeNHA which should compensate them.

NLC chairperson Gershom Otachi confirmed to the Nation that the agency had received Sh1 billion from KeNHA to pay the affected residents, but that it is still verifying their documents to ensure that they do not have disputes.

He added that lack of property identification documents has reportedly delayed the release of funds to compensate land owners moved to pave the way for the road project.

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