Family tiff with county government over borehole site

The family of the late M'Itome M'Guula from Kieni Kia Muuti village in Njia ward, Igembe Central, with county government and provincial administration officials in July 2019. [Courtesy].

A family in Njia ward, Igembe Central, has opposed the sinking of a borehole on their farm by the county government.

Some of the late M'Itome M'Guula's family members from Kioro kia Muuti village claim there was no "adequate consultation" before the borehole was dug. The farm in question, they said, is still under the deceased's name.

The county government, through Njia MCA Isaaih Kanyaru, however, said consent was obtained from members of the family occupying the area where the project is located.

Water and Sanitation Executive Eunice Kobia also denied there was controversy over the issue.

“We can't take land forcibly. It is just a member of the family and not the entire family making those allegations,” she said.

Geofrey Ntoiti M'Itome, one of the two sons of M'Guula's, also disowned claims by his nieces and nephews that there was no consent to donate the land for the borehole project.

The complainants are the sons of his brother John Gitonga who died in 2009.

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In a petition to Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Ms Josephine Gitonga claims the county officials coerced some of the family members to approve the project, while others were hoodwinked to give up the land for free.

“This is a noble project for the community but there is nowhere in this country where the government takes over people’s land for public projects without offering compensation,” said Ms Gitonga.

A visit to the site showed drilling, piping and an overhead tank was already installed and only a solar powered pumping system was yet to be installed ahead of commissioning.

However, the Njia MCA claimed under the county government borehole project, families agreeing to offer sites measuring 10 by 10 feet were compensated through free water supply for life.

“Where geological surveys have found that drilling in nearby schools was not viable, we approach families to offer sites and we have done two other such boreholes in my ward without hindrances,” said Kanyaru.

He claimed the family signed the first agreement with the area chief being a witness and a subsequent agreement was entered at the county government headquarters.

The Kiraitu administration has sunk 150 boreholes at a total cost of Sh866 million, five for every ward in the semi-arid areas of Buuri, Tigania and Igembe in one of its most ambitious development programmes.

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Njia MCAJohn Gitonga