Land grabbing claims stall construction of government officers in Thika

A man erects a warning notice on a prime land parcel that was on the verge of being grabbed at section 9 Estate within Thika town. [Kamau Njoroge, Standard]

Claims of land-grabbing incidents have blocked the construction of key government offices in Thika, it has emerged.

This has posed significant challenges to the development and infrastructure projects planned for the residents of the Thika town constituency. 

Public utilities including parcels set aside for schools, hospitals, social halls, recreational facilities and land belonging to squatters have been the major targets by grabbers. 

It emerged that the witty cartels work with corrupt officials at the Thika land registry and Lands Ministry to forge ownership documents.

Early this month, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) froze multi-billion wealth belonging to Thika Land Registrar Felix Mecha Nyakundi for six months.

Nyakundi’s 106 prime properties spread across the country, 17 high-end vehicles and cash amounting to Sh4.26 million are alleged to be proceeds of corruption.

The last land grabbing case is three-acre land, where the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure office for the Kiambu region is located.

This was revealed recently when the government initiated the process of putting up ICT hubs on the land.

Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a, said when she was requested to avail the land documents before the establishment of the ICT hubs, she was shocked after a search from the Ministry of Lands that the land had been leased to two individuals in 2022.

A search conducted on February 14, 2024 indicated that the land with Title number Thika Municipality block 5/186 was leased to two proprietors for a term of 99 years beginning December 1, 1998. 

Upon realizing that there were two individuals claiming ownership of the land the director general of Kenya National Highway Authority wrote a letter to the Thika lands office on February 15, 2023 requesting the lands office to put a caution which was issued on February 22, 2023.  

“The alleged persons are now demanding to be compensated to vacate the prime land now at the centre of controversy where an acre of land at that area is estimated to cost Sh50 million,” Ms Ng’ang’a said.

The MP warned grabbers that they have no escape route as the current government is keen on restoring all illegally acquired public land.

In September last year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki launched the construction of a Police station in Ngoingwa estate.

Six months later the plot where ground breaking took place was claimed by people who said they were the bonafide owners.

The construction was relocated to another place across the road set aside for public use although half of it was also grabbed. 

In Kigango estate located in Kamenu ward, the most populous ward in the Country, Thika town NG-CDF has been unable to construct another school and decongest Kimuchu primary school.

This is after the land which was set aside for the school was taken away by the grabbers.

“If you go to our schools in Thika we have a problem of enrolment. In the last 10 years, estates like Ngoingwa, Salama, Happy Valley and Kiganjo have developed. We need government land but has been grabbed so that we cannot accommodate these children in new schools,” Thika West DCC said.

The grabbers went a notch higher by disturbing the dead after they hived off another three-acre part of Thika’s 50-acre cemetery.

It took the intervention of Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome to stop a contractor who was digging a trench to put up a perimeter fence.

Wahome ordered police officers who have been manning the execution of an order to evict sand sellers to leave the ground.

She said those claiming the land had adulterated documents.

In February 2024, when Wahome visited the cemetery to ascertain the extent of grabbing, two officials from the Lands Ministry were suspended for colluding with a private developer to hive off three acres of Thika Cemetery.

"Last month one of our officers left us in the office and went to court to give a false testimony. Our chief registrar now has been summoned over the matter to shed more light. I have handed him to my PS for disciplinary action and I have recommended for his sacking", Wahome said.