Hopes for locals as fresh survey on Yala Swamp land begins

Locals carry placards during a recent protest to push for fresh demarcation of Yala Swamp Land. (Standard)
Siaya county government has commenced a fresh survey and demarcation on Yala Swamp to implement locals-backed directive by the National Lands Commission (NLC).

The commission asked the Ministry of Lands and Siaya County Government to give any excess land outside the gazetted Yala Swamp back to the community.

The local community last year petitioned the NLC to have the land returned to its original owners.

The matter dates back to 2012 when two members of Yimbo Yala Swamp Farmers Society sued Dominion Farms Ltd.

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They sought orders to have the American firm confined to the 3,700 hectares gazetted vide Gazette Notice No 2570 of September 4, 1970.

The County government through partnership with the National government on Thursday began a survey and demarcation exercise to determine the boundaries.

Siaya Lands Executive Dismas Wakla said the exercise which aims at putting clear boundaries on the areas that are supposed to be left for the community and those to be left for investment, will be conducted within two weeks.

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 "We expect to spend about Sh2.5 million in this exercise that was recommended by Siaya County Assembly’s joint committee and subsequent ruling by the National Land Commission (NLC), as the only way to address the historical land injustices at the wetland,” he said adding that  the county government is committed to full implementation of the recommendations.

Wakla, who was speaking in Alego Usonga where the process of demarcation was set to kick off said the county government's interest is to see to it that the dispute is sorted fully.

The move comes barely two days after the community living around Yala Swamp led by local leaders issued a one-week ultimatum to the county government to be begin the process or face mass protests.

Central Alego MCA Leonard Oriaro and his Usonga counterpart Sylvester Madialo on Tuesday held a meeting with the community to petition the County to fasten the demarcation process.

"My happiness and satisfaction is that the cries of the community will finally be answered. It will give me peace to see our people get justice after so many years," said Oriaro.

Madialo added that the demarcation of the wetland will clearly distinguish the part that had been leased to Dominion Farm Ltd and that which should be left to the community.

"This move is good for the new investor as well. There will never be conflict with the community like was the case with Dominion Farm Ltd," said Madialo.

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Yala SwampSiaya County GovernmentNLCFresh SurveyDominion Farm Ltd