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Ward reps demand probe into Sh60m resort land deal

By Joseph Muchiri | Published Fri, June 15th 2018 at 00:00, Updated June 14th 2018 at 23:09 GMT +3
Members of the second County Assembly of Embu. [Joseph Muchiri/Standard]

Members of the County Assembly have alleged that the county executive irregularly allocated several parcels of land at the Mwea Settlement Scheme. They said the land was given to an individual at no cost and then bought back from him at Sh60 million to establish a luxury resort next to Masinga Dam.

Mwea MCA Harrison Mwaluko said during a budget-making session that the county had pending bills accrued by the ministry formerly known as Lands, Water, Environment and Natural Resources for acquisition of one parcel at Sh23 million and another parcel at Sh37 million.

When the ministry was split into Water, Irrigation, Environment and Natural Resources, and Lands, Physical Development and Urban Development, both carried forward the Sh60 million transaction as pending bills for the 2017-2018 financial year. This resulted in a Sh120 million debt.

Angry MCAs demanded to know how the transaction took place, stating that by the time the land was purported to have been sold, all parcels in Mwea Settlement Scheme were held in trust by the county government and had not been demarcated or allocated to private individuals.

They therefore believe that the county government bought land from itself, and an official pocketed the proceeds.

“The county assembly should shelve all legislative business to investigate this anomaly,” said nominated MCA Jane-Ann Murithi.

When taken to task, Water Executive Patrick Waganagwa admitted that his department had budgeted Sh60 million for the land purchase.

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The MCAs demanded to see records of the land parcels in question. They further demanded the sellers of the land be summoned for questioning.

Offer information

Makima MCA Phillip Nzangi revealed the query on the land came up in a previous Lands committee meeting, but the Lands department declined to offer information requested for completion of investigations.

“The committee is still probing and will get to the bottom of the matter,” he said.

Budget committee chairman Robert Ireri called for calm, saying his committee would be checking the current county budget to see what was accommodated as pending bills in the two dockets to establish whether the monies had been drawn from the county treasury or not.

The MCAs called for a freeze on the intended payments and recovery of the money if it had already been paid out.

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