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Team reveals grabbing of county houses, land in Kisumu County

By Kepher Otieno | Published Thu, December 15th 2016 at 11:36, Updated December 15th 2016 at 11:42 GMT +3
Municipal council of Kisumu civic leaders outside the Town Hall in an earlier photo. A team probing the state of Government property has revealed that land and houses initially owned by the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council have been grabbed. (pHOTO: COURTESY)

A team probing the state of Government property has revealed that land and houses initially owned by the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council have been grabbed.

Preliminary investigations by the team appointed by Governor Jack Ranguma show that some of the houses had been renovated and ownership secretly reverted to private individuals.

Some of the beneficiaries include MPs, MCAs and aspirants for various elective seats, whom the report found liable for either acquiring public land or buying the county houses at throwaway prices.

The committee chaired by former councillor George Weda vowed to publicly name the beneficiaries soon.

“We are gathering evidence that cannot be challenged. So far, documents in our possession point to glaring disparities in the allocation of public property and grabbing of public houses,” said Mr Weda.

He said the beneficiaries would have to face the law.

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“We want to assure the public that once investigations are complete, we will then forward the report to the governor who shall make the findings public,” Weda explained.

The team has been briefing the governor on the progress of their investigations and Mr Ranguma has assured the committee of prompt action.

Three groups

In executing its mandate, the team divided itself into three groups, with Weda heading the probe committee as veteran lawyer Aggrey Mwamu heads the legal committee.

Betty Okero is the head and liaison officer of the public affairs committee wing of the 13-member team that also includes Mohammud Ibrahim, who is the Kisumu East deputy county commissioner.

Other members are Edmond Onyango representing the religious community, Felix Opata of the Chamber of Commerce and Eban Orwa from the County Lands Management Board.

The team has also co-opted Kisumu Central sub-county administrator Magdaline Wasame.

The committee is expected to advise the county government on matters relating to irregular allocations of public lands in the county.

The team is also mandated to write a report that will guide the county government, the National Land Commission (NLC) and the County Lands Management Board on how to repossess properties that were irregularly allocated.

Allocated twice

In some instances, the team found out that land was allocated twice to unsuspecting investors who were conned out of millions of shillings.

Ranguma is on record saying one of the major reforms that will help to save investors across the expansive county is increased attention to the problems of land tenure security.

He said his government had initiated the probe in order to protect the rights of individuals and groups from forceful evictions.

“The team will recommend measures to resolve any issues emanating from the prevalent multiple or double allocations of public land, which has caused the executive nightmares,” he said.

Ranguma’s government envisages that the task force will restore order in land allocations and safeguard public interests in the county’s urban areas.