Taita Taveta locals censure MCAs as court halts varsity project

Ndara B Community Chairman Benjamin Mwandaa and Dan Kamau at Diaspora University Town development office at Voi, Taita Taveta.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The county assembly moved to court in July to stop the construction of Diaspora University Town in Ndara B, claiming that the project is a scheme by the investors to defraud residents of their land.
  • Another resident, Mr Jackson Keke, accused the MCAs of using the courts to deny the ordinary citizens their economic rights.

Proposals to build a Sh100 billion university complex in Mwatate has sparked off a massive furore, with a section of residents demanding that the county assembly, which is against the project, withdraws its case against Ndara B Ranch. 

The county assembly moved to court in July to stop the construction of Diaspora University Town in Ndara B, claiming that the project is a scheme by the investors to defraud residents of their land.

A group of Kenyan investors living in the diaspora are planning to put up a 30,000-student capacity university and have already secured over 1,500 acres of land to actualise the dream.

The project will include the construction of town houses, hospitals, a research park, an industrial park, schools, and pharmaceutical factories.  Residents say they have been promised 20,000 jobs, should the project becomes a reality.

“We want the county assembly to withdraw the case for us to be able to secure construction jobs here. This project will create many jobs during and after its construction,” Ms Rose Wakio, a resident, said.

Economic rights

The residents from Sagala and Rong’e areas, accused their leaders of not having the interests of the community at heart.

Another resident, Mr Jackson Keke, accused the MCAs of using the courts to deny the ordinary citizens their economic rights.

“Instead of them engaging in meaningful development, they are here frustrating genuine projects because of their interests,” he claimed. 

Ndara B Ranch chairman Benjamin Mwandaa urged the county assembly to withdraw the case as it had already approved the project in 2017.

“We’re tired of being victimised by our leaders. We want the project to kick off for our members and the local community to start enjoying the benefits of this development,” he said.

Last year, however, the assembly rescinded its decision to allow the development and blackballed the project.

Hidden motive

Reached for comment, Rong’e MCA Haris Keke said the case will continue until the investors hold meetings with the residents in accordance with the public participation laws.

“They did not follow the right procedures in securing the land. They should come to us and outline clearly the details on this project and only then will we give it the go-ahead,” he said.

In 2018, Governor Granton Samboja vowed to stop the project, questioning the procedure the investors used to secure the piece of land.

Mr Samboja said he would not support the project as he had realised that the investors had a hidden motive in acquiring the land.

lmkanyika@ke.nationmedia.com