Tension and protests as NLC gives out sugar factory land
A crisis is looming in the troubled Nyando sugar belt after the National Lands Commission (NLC) gave the green light to groups to start claiming hundreds of acres whose ownership has led to cross-border feuds.
In a Gazette notice dated March 1, the NLC made recommendations that could also see state-owned Chemelil and Muhoroni sugar companies lose hundreds of acres of their farms to groups from Nandi and Kisumu counties.
The Gazette notice is signed by then NLC vice chairperson Abigael Mbagaya and titled ‘Investigative Hearing for Complaints Relating to Historical Land Injustices’. The notice has already stirred protests and fuelled tension as communities that had filed petitions demanding back large tracks of land allegedly taken over by settlers accused the NLC of discrimination.
While members of Nyando Valley Association from Nandi County are a happy lot after the NLC granted their requests to claim the 1,200ha of sugarcane nucleus farm belonging to Chemelil Sugar Company, their counterparts from Kisumu County, Kithimo Welfare Group, are threatening legal action after their requests to reclaim large swathes of land from Kibos to Chemelil were rejected.
The management of Chemelil Sugar Company yesterday rejected the Gazette notice, describing it as “alarmist”, and said it had instructed its lawyers to appeal the decision. Managing Director Gabriel Nyangweso said he had seen the notice whose report he said was ill-advised.
“It is bad. Chemelil Sugar is a government institution. You cannot transfer government land to private ownership. It cannot happen. We have appealed for a judicial review of the Kenya Gazette notice,” Mr Nyangweso said.
The neighbouring Muhoroni Sugar Company ould also lose part of its land after Koguta Land Reclamation Group lodged a case against it.
In the Gazette notice, the NLC said: “The Committee hereby recommends that the Privatization Commission and Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning assist in planning, surveying and resettling the claimants on the said parcels of land LR No 3977 and LR No 3978.”
The lands commission said the Nyando Valley Association was entitled to the firm’s land. Another group of squatters in Muhoroni Constituency who claim they were uprooted from their land at Thesalia Buru during the 90s tribal clashes also accused the NLC of ignoring their plight.
Thesalia Internally Displaced Squatters chairman Thomas Gombe said they were waiting for the government to settle them on a land they were allocated and had even been issued with title deeds.
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