Ministers, MPs accused of ‘hoarding’ public land
By Kepher Otieno
Some Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament are among individuals who own huge parcels of land that have been lying idle within the Municipal Council of Kisumu for close to a decade.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Land and Natural resources was told that the leaders also topped the list of rate defaulters and used their positions for protection against action by the council.
The unpaid rates have accrued to over Sh1.5 billion, yet there are no immediate signs that the leaders intend to offset the accrued debts any time soon, sparking a public outrage.
On Tuesday, the committee led by Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi assured members of the public that they would prepare and table a list of the defaulters and hand it to Parliament.
“We will not accept the blame. If our colleagues are the ones who are a stumbling block to development in Kisumu, then we shall expose them in good faith,” said Musyimi.
He spoke as data tabled before the committee revealed that more than 100 hectares of land was owned by leaders who ironically were consistent advocates of integrity.
Kisumu City Residents’ Voice Association chairman Audi Ogada sparked the heated debate after the Town Clerk, Daniel Olenkere, gave a chronology of land allotments.
“How do you expect Kisumu city to grow if investors cannot be allocated land just because some few rich individuals want to hoard the plots,” posed Ogada.
Olenkere produced documents, pre-dated to 1972, showing some individuals who were allocated land had failed to develop them to date.
Consequently, he claimed, development plans in the town had stagnated because the local authority had no land left to allocate to investors.
Olenkere claimed efforts to reclaim the parcels of the plots had “kissed the dust” following a warning from the Commissioner of Lands office that they keep off the plots.
Town Planner Absalom Ayany disclosed that some of the allottees were allegedly using the Commissioner of Lands to extend their leaseholds.
land tenure system
Mayor Sam Okello blamed the mess on the poor land tenure system tracing back to 1963, which had impacted negatively on the plots allocation.
Residents of Kisumu, Kajulu and Kolwa complicated matters for the council when they sought Parliament’s advise on the allocations, through Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch.
On Tuesday, Musyimi said the committee had been mandated by the Speaker of the National Assembly to find out the truth surrounding the allocations and suggest possible redress mechanisms.
The allotment of plots in the city has been halted, pending a resolution of the conflict.
Committee members present at the hearing were Benedict Fondo, Justus Kizito, Benjamin Washiali, Peter Njuguna and Erastus Mureithi.
Kizito requested the authority to hand in the names of the ministers and MPs without prejudice.
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