Officials ‘sabotage’ IDPs resettlement

By Karanja Njoroge

A row has erupted over 100,000 iron sheets donated by China towards the construction of houses for displaced families in Rift Valley.

Displaced persons are demanding the iron sheets be released to them. They are questioning why the Government is holding the materials while they suffer in camps.

Vice chairman of the National Humanitarian Assistance Advisory Board Moses Akaranga yesterday said there was no logic in withholding the distribution of the iron sheets in view of the ongoing heavy rains.

Speaking at Pipeline and Alko IDP camps in Nakuru, Akaranga accused some senior Government officials in the Ministry of Special Programmes of frustrating resettlement of the IDPs.

Tattered tents

The officials, he claimed, were sabotaging the distribution of construction materials and funds. He said the displaced were living in aged and tattered tents.

"Now that it is raining, it does not make any sense to continue holding onto the materials while the envisaged beneficiaries suffer," Akaranga said.

Nakuru DC Kangethe Thuku, however, said the Government intends to release the iron sheets once it has found land to resettle the IDPs.

The DC said the Government was facing problems acquiring suitable land. Akaranga, whose board was initially spearheading the resettlement programme, said Government policies were only good if they served needs of the people.

"Policies should be flexible and adaptive to changes in circumstances," he added.

He spoke as information emerged more than Sh8 million earmarked to pay IDPs has been lying idle for more than four months, allegedly awaiting approval from some Government officials.

The funds are meant to pay IDPs Sh35,000 so they could move out of the camps.

Akaranga toured the Pipeline camp after the IDPs were tear-gassed and attacked with batons as they attempted to march to the Rift Valley Provincial Headquarters last weekend to demand the iron sheets.

He said rains pounding the country had put IDPs lives at risk.

Most are still languishing in transit camps despite a directive issued by President Kibaki in October that all camps be closed.