Ministry of Lands, not NLC, to value land for projects, Ruto says

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua during an interdenominational prayer service at Isiolo Boys High School on May 21.

Photo credit: Courtesy | PCS

President William Ruto has put the National Land Commission (NLC) on notice following mounting complaints of unfair compensation for those affected by government projects, and has tasked the Ministry of Lands to carry out future valuations.

Alleging widespread corruption at the commission, which he has vowed to deal with ruthlessly, President Ruto said the shift in roles will ensure fair compensation for all Kenyans.

“It is not possible for NLC to decide when compensation will be done, who will be compensated and how much they will get for accountability purposes,” said the President, who was accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and a host of leaders to an interdenominational service in Isiolo.

The Head of State was responding to complaints by Isiolo leaders over the disparity in compensation between in Isiolo and Garissa counties for the Sh83.7 billion Isiolo-Modogashe-Mandera road.

Woman Rep Mumina Bonaya and Senator Fatuma Dullo said it was unfortunate that Garissa residents affected by the project were getting double the amount paid to Isiolo residents.

“In Garissa, they are offering Sh45,000 for a square metre while in Isiolo it is Sh25,000 for the same area,” Ms Bonaya said.

Ms Dullo said there should be comparative justice in compensation so that some residents are not disadvantaged.

President Ruto said that while every Kenyan had the right to fair compensation, Isiolo residents should avoid demanding higher amounts as this could derail the World Bank-funded project.

“My intention is to build the road and if you ask me for a lot of money, I may not be able to complete the project,” he said.

When completed, the road is expected to significantly cut the travel time from Nairobi to Mandera, a distance of 983 kilometres. Its construction is also expected to create 3,000 jobs directly.

At the same time, the Isiolo leaders lobbied for improved security measures, government appointments, operationalisation of stalled projects and launch of new ones. They asked President Ruto to reroute the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project through the county.

The leaders also complained about the protracted dispute between the Kenya Defence Forces and local communities in Burat, Ngaremara and Oldonyiro counties and demanded that the military be moved out.

President Ruto said he had already instructed Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, who was present, and Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla to convene a meeting with Isiolo leaders to find a lasting solution.

“We have already deployed 30 surveyors to assess the situation, which will be resolved by the end of the year,” he said.

During the prayer rally, Jubilee and UDA leaders took a swipe at former President Uhuru Kenyatta and defended President Ruto’s record in the last eight months. Calls for Mr Kenyatta to quit politics and emulate his predecessors, who “retired peacefully” dominated the event at Isiolo Boys.

Isiolo Governor Abdi Ibrahim Guyo, Ms Dullo, Ms Bonaya and Isiolo South MP Mohammed Tupi, all elected on the Jubilee ticket, said they had decided to work with Dr Ruto to achieve development in the region.