Bloodshed Looms Over Access Road Dispute, Residents Call For Fast Government Intervention.


A section of Mutoho residents clearing land for the disputed access road.
A family in Mutoho village, Turuturu Sub-Location of Kigumo Constituency and the residents of the area are currently enmeshed in conflict over a move by the residents to reclaim a public access road that links the village with the neighbouring Kandara Constituency.

Wednesday morning, youth who had been contracted to clear the path, had to run for their dear lives after they were confronted with pangas by the family members who denied them any access to clear the area. Within a short while, the members of public joined into the fray and dared the family for a fight.

The standoff was quelled by the area chief who stopped any further clearance until this matter was amicably solved. Otherwise, the residents vowed that they would take the law into their hands and forcefully clear the road, with the family standing their ground that this would only happen over their dead bodies.

The residents say that their action to forcefully reclaim the road is in reaction to an alleged breach of their rights by the affected family who claims that the road doesn’t entirely pass through their land.

According to 80-year old Peter Njihia Kamau who claims to be one of the people who were involved in the demarcation of land in 1964, there existed an access road that linked the now Kigumo and Kandara Constituencies but was later fenced off by the family thus denying further usage.

Njihia claimed that even after so many calls for intervention, the area leadership had for more than ten years failed to come up with a solution to the impasse, a wrangle that at one time had seen him get attacked by the family.
  
“This road was originally set aside in 1964 to link Turuturu Village and Thagari Village in Kandara. Unfortunately, the owners of this piece of land sealed it off from the public and hived a small path at the edge of their shamba that the public use t the river. The path is too small and very steep to be used by anyone with a luggage. Immediately after independence, we used this particular route to access the stream down there and to water our livestock,” said Njihia.

He says that the road was very essential to them as it was the easiest route to access all the neighbouring centres of Kagundu-ini, Gaichajiru Mission Hospital, Kariua and Kandara. He claims that the residents have been undergoing untold suffering as they are forced to walk for more than 10 kilometers to the neighbouring centres, majority of them being merely less than a kilometer away.

“Currently we are forced to pay sh. 150 to go to Kariua or Thagari, a distance that would have otherwise taken us just 20 minutes to walk. We are therefore appealing to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene on our behalf and help is access the road,” he added.

These sentiments were supported by James Maina Muthee, a resident of the area who added that after an outcry by the residents, they mobilised the youth to clear the road. According to him, they had contracted the services of several surveyors whose results came to the same conclusion. He also claims that the families in dispute had previously been requested to contract a surveyor of their choice so that this dispute would be settled once and for all but they were yet to do so.

Maina says that the bone of contention may have emanated from a family disagreement after it emerged that it had only passed through one of the families land.

“This road was allocated before the original owner, who is the father to the aggrieved family, had subdivided his land amongst his children. He had two wives and each one of them had sons. So, when he finally sub-divided his land amongst them, the family of the first wife now feel cheated after the access road only cuts through their section of the land. They are now demanding that it cuts across the entire three homestead,” said Maina.

In response, the over 90-year old widow, who is the only surviving member of the original land owners, claims that disputes these argument saying that the road was originally marked to cut through the three homesteads as opposed to what the residents were claiming. She says that those who re-routed it to only cut through her part of the land, did so with the intention to grab her only piece of land.
Mungai shows the press that part of the road that is said to have miscellaneously diverted to deny them justice. (Inset: their 90+ year old mother.

“Whoever re-routed this road must have conspired to grab my part of the land. What right is there to target only my house for demolition and not those of my late co-wife’s sons? I am only appealing, as your great grandmother, for justice as this is not right. I have no objection but I only pray that this dispute will be resolved amicably and that only justice will prevail,” she posed.

She claims to have been the one who took care of the entire family after the demise of her husband and co-wife, thus she bore first-hand information about the whole scenario. She added that logic had it that no road ever went straight against the slope.

Her son, Mungai Njoroge, said that they have been into several disputes with his step-brothers in relation to this road. He clarified that his family had no objection to the road passing through part of their land as this was what was originally the case. Their objection was with the re-routing that, according to him, was choreographed to suit certain interests.

He is now calling for an independent surveyor, preferably from the government, to re-look into the issue.
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