By Steve Mkawale
Plans by the Nakuru Municipal Council to buy 73 acres of land for a public cemetery have hit a dead end.
The Standard on Sunday learnt that the Ministry of Local Government withheld Sh55 million it had approved for buying two parcels of land, in the outskirts of the town.
Sources at the council said although the ministry had approved the funds, release was suspended after the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) officials queried the deal.
" There were three varying valuation reports and the fourth that was ordered by the ministry undervalued the land, forcing KACC to query the deal," said the officer.
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The officer, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said KACC gave the deal a clean bill of health after the investigations.
"But we are surprised that even after all that, the ministry is still holding on the cheque," he said.
Nakuru Town Clerk Sheikh Abdullah said the council was waiting for the ministry to help them buy the land.
He said the council’s role in the deal was to identify suitable land for the cemetery.
"I do not have details on the deal. Our role was to look for land," said Mr Abdullah
He, however, admitted that the situation at the two public cemeteries had reached a crisis level.
"The North and South cemeteries were filled up a long time ago," he said.
Last month, the public health department criticised the cemeteries. They filled up nine months ago, but council workers have been opening up old graves to bury new bodies. Local Mayor David Gikaria said the ministry must address the issue with urgency.
" The council has no funds to buy land for new grave sites. We were relieved when the ministry responded to our plea and offered the funds, but now we are back to where we started," he said.
Residents have protested against the council’s move to open up old graves saying it was against African traditions.
" The council should let the dead rest in peace. People pay taxes to be offered services and opening up old graves will not make matters any better for the council. They should purchase land for the new gravesites," said Mr Francis Karanja, a resident.