Farmers Stall World Bank Project Over Non-Payment Of Compensation.

A section of the protesting farmers who were demanding compensation from Athi Water Board for the losses they incurred from destruction of their crops to pave way for the construction of the World Bank funded Thika South Sewerage System
More than 100 farmers from Athena Village in Kianjau Location of Thika West District, whose food crops were destroyed to pave way for the construction of Thika South Sewerage System, on Tuesday staged a peaceful demonstration against the management of Athi Water Services Board for the non-payment of their compensation since August 2016.

While carrying twigs and chanting “Haki Yetu! Haki Yetu! (We demand our rights! We demand our rights!), the farmers forcefully forced the Chinese company that has been working on the project and vowed not to allow any activities at the site until their grievances were heard.

They decried what they claimed was the authorities ignoring their appeals and dilly dallying in their promises for compensation. They argued that they had on numerous occasions sought the assistance of the area chief and the Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) to present a memorandum to the authorities and despite their assurance, nothing has been done on ground to resolve their problems.

“We have now decided to stop further construction works for this project until our grievances are heard. We have not seen any signs from these people that any compensation package is forthcoming. This has left us with no option but to take our case to the streets,” said James Mwangi who claimed to have lost crops worth about Ksh. 300,000 and part of his quarter acre piece of land affected by the project.

Jane Wambui alleged that they had sought the audience of from the Athi Water Services Board management in Juja but nothing was forthcoming. She said that the officers in that office either ignored them or gave them fake promises that never materialised.

“When we realised that these people do not want to listen to us, we went to the DO and the DC Thika but they too have not helped us. Our chief no longer picks our phone and whenever he does, he tells us that he cannot trace the officials of Athi Water Services Board. We therefore wondering who to go to for help,” said Wambui.

70 year-old Rose Wanjiru Ng’ang’a saw no reason to vote in the coming elections as according to her, it was meaningless to waste her time to vote in a government that was irresponsive of their plight.

“I don’t see any reason to vote if I cannot fend for myself. I am aging now and this shamba was what I was depending on for my daily bread,” said Wanjiru. 

According to Geoffrey Ndung’u, a member of the area community policing team, the estimated value of the overall damage of crops and land could be about sh. 10 million. He explained that the farms affected stretched over 5km from Kihunguro next to the Thika Superhighway all the way to Kiganjo estate.

He claimed to have presented the names of the affected families to the DO Thika who up to this moment had not yet met these families. He therefore appealed to the authorities to act with speed and save the affected people from further agony.

The multibillion-shilling sewerage project, that covers Ruiru, Juja and Thika Districts, has been dogged with compensation and legal tussles since the year 2014 with those affected pointing an accusing finger at Athi Water Services Board of ignoring the Acquisition Act on compensation for government projects or shortchanging the claimants.

Last month, another group of peasant farmers from Kiganjo in Kamenu Ward of Thika Constituency yesterday paralysed the operations at the construction site of the Thika South Sewerage System after their demands for compensation for the crops that were damaged in the process preparing for the trunk sewer systems, reticulation and waste-water treatment plant failed to be effected, about two years down the line.

The World Bank in 2015 funded the Kenyan Government through Nairobi Metropolitan Services Improvement Project (NaMSIP) for the construction of the Juja & Thika Sewerage System (trunk sewer systems, reticulation and waste-water treatment plant) which comprises of construction of 77km of sewer network and sewerage treatment works at Juja and Thika of capacities 10,000 m3/day and 6,500m3/day respectively.
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