Tensions builds up as Kilifi squatters over eviction loom

Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire (in orange t-shirt) leads Bamba residents in a peaceful demonstration to protest against planned sale of Giriama Ranch. [Maureen Ongala, Standard]
Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire led Bamba residents in a peaceful demonstration to protest the planned auction of Giriama Ranch.

The demonstrators, who walked for over 35km from the ranch to Bamba town, demanded that the 66,000-acre ranch, which has at least 35,000 inhabitants, be reverted to the local community.

A bank planned to sell the ranch today to recover Sh285 million it lent out to Riva Oil Company. The sale by public auction was, however, suspended by the High Court last week pending the outcome of a petition challenging the legality of the proposed disposal.

Giriama Ranch was formed by the community in 1968, but the livestock keeping project at the ranch collapsed in the early 1990s.

Speaking after presenting a petition to a representative of the Bamba assistant County commissioner, Mr Mwambire said they would not relent until the plan to sell the land is shelved and the land returned to the original owners.

“We will not allow the land to be auctioned and we shall not allow anybody to sell the land in order to displace us. We want to have our land back because the leasehold agreement was for 45 years. We want the bank to hold the directors of Riva Oils Company limited responsible and not to auction the ranch which has no relationship with Riva Oils," said the legislator.

The MP also urged the local administration to stop meddling in the ranch matters.

“The chiefs should stop interfering with the ranch issues. They should keep to their duties. We do not want herders to be allowed to graze their animals until the pertinent issues are resolved,” read the petition.

Already three injunctions have been filed in relation to the matter. The petitions have been filed in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi.

On Thursday last week, another group of Ganze residents held demos to condemn a former minister whose company allegedly acquired a loan using a provisional title deed of the Giriama Ranch.

Kilifi MP Owen Baya has since reported the matter at the DCI Kilifi for investigations.

Elsewhere, tension is in Mitangoni in Mariakani ward over fears that 35,000 people could be evicted from Shangia following Friday's court ruling that the 7,100 acres belong to Tsangwa Chome Ngala.

Affected families rushed to court on Friday seeking to halt the the eviction order but the court declined to grant their player.

Judge James Olola sitting at the Lands Court in Malindi declined their request until the case filed at the Court of Appeal is heard and determined.

The community, consisting of the Giriama and Duruma, could now be evicted from the land. [Maureen Ongala, Nehemiah Okwemba and Patrick Beja]

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Ganze MP Teddy MwambireBamba residentsGiriama RanchKilifi squattersprotests