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Is The Kiambu Gov. Fueling A 'Kihiu Mwiri" Type Skirmishes?

Emotions are running high in Thika’s Landless Estate over a 6-Acre piece of land that two groups of people are fighting to protect its ownership.

The disputed property, BLOCK 21 (formerly LR. 7240/I) near Kamagambo in Landless belongs to Gatundu/Gatuanyaga Dairy Company Limited but members of another group going by the name Gatundu/Gatuanyaga Welfare Group claims that the parcel in question is their public utility land that was encroached by the owners of these plots.

The County Government of Kiambu, through its Department of Public Planning, has also been drawn into the mix with accusations of it being manipulated to deny the plot owners approvals for erecting houses in the land.

On Wednesday as our team went on a fact finding mission in the area, tension was very high with the affected 30 plot owners vowing to go to an extent of spilling blood in defense of what they believed was rightfully theirs.

According to one of the victims Mr. Samuel Maina, they have all the relevant documents to show that the said plots are legally theirs. Thika Town Today viewed these documents which all seemed very genuine.

“This is my Title-deed (showing the documents). This is the map from the Survey of Kenya indicating that this not a public utility. These are my receipts and evidence to the effect that I have been paying my land rates to the former Municipal Council of Thika and now The County Government of Kiambu. If this actually public land, how comes they have been charging rates to individual owners?” asked Maina.

Maina claimed that there had emerged a cartel that was colluding with county government officials to frustrate them into giving up their land. It is the same cartel that was working in cahoots with the Thika Sub-County planning department to deny building plans approvals to all the 30 plot owners, even when they had satisfied all the conditions.

“If at all it is true that this land is public, why aren’t they serving the Lands Ministry with a caveat to block any transactions on this parcel?” he posed.

Another victim, Joseph Njoroge, whose perimeter wall was demolished by county askaris accompanied by about 30 tobacco sniffing youth, demanded to know why the owners of these plots were being tossed around from one office to another by the county planning departments whenever they went for building plans approvals.

“Whenever you go to the county planner at the Lands office, he sends you to the Town planner in stadium. The town planner sends you back to the county planner, ending up stranded and not served. This seems to be a deliberate racket to frustrate us. Now they have demolished my wall and arrested my fundi for building without a plan. We are asking our governor Mr. Kabogo to intervene and help us know what is wrong with our plots,” said Njoroge.

According to the documents we saw, this parcel of land was originally bought by Gatundu/Gatuanyaga Dairy Company Limited in the late 80s.  It was a very big parcel that bordered Chania River on one side and Munyu/Githima on the other side.

When sub-dividing the land, the 6 Acres in question had been initially set aside as some public utility. Later on, high voltage power lines from Kindaruma Dam had to transverse over the land on its way to Nairobi. The Kenya Power Company requested the members to surrender all plots that would have been fallen on the power lines which they did.

It was for these reason that the members decided to compensate their colleagues who had been affected, with the 6 Acres that had initially been allocated for public utility.
In the minutes of a general meeting held by members on the 29th February 1990 at Gatundu Stadium, the 6 Acres were therefore sub-divided to cater for the 30 members and the minutes submitted to the Registrar of Lands for Approval.

The Ministry of Lands approved this new development and advised the then Municipal Council of Thika accordingly.

There later emerged a dispute between the council and the group after a new group, Gatundu/Gatuanyaga Welfare Group, claimed to be the rightful owners of the ‘new’ arrangement.

They are said to have sub-divided the parcel afresh, allocating plots for schools, water tanks and business stalls that they traded for Ksh. 30,000 to a fresh lot of unsuspecting people without the knowledge of the original owners of the land.

Another dispute, Case No. 1203 of 2004, was lodged in court again, stopping any action over the said land.

It was not until 14th September 2011, when the two groups agreed to settle the matter out of court. The Registrar of Lands removed the caution that had been placed over the disputed piece and allowed the sub-division of the land into members’ plots. The Lands Ministry wrote a letter to that effect, copied to the Thika Lands Registrar, the Municipal Council of Thika and the group.

They are now wondering why the county askaris are demolishing their property without any court order and going ahead to arrest them. They also questioning him to know why his officers employ services of goons with knives to come and harass them in their own land.

They are now calling Kiambu Governor William Kabogo to intervene and solve this problem once and for all.

“Mr. Governor, if you don’t about this, these people are hiring very suspicious people who are even robbing us. Your askaris are also pickpocketing those they arrest. My foreman lost sh.28,000 the other day meant to pay for cement. My neighbour here lost sh. 64,000 yesterday when they took him to Thika police Station,” said Njoroge.

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