Del Monte land will be given to slum dwellers, Waititu now declares

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Del Monte Managing Director Stergios Gkaliamouts after signing a Memorandum of Understanding to renew of the company's 8,000-acre parcel of land that falls under the county's jurisdiction for another 99 years in Thika. [Kamau Maichuhie/Standard]
Governor Ferdinand Waititu has said his administration will champion the quest to have squatters settled on Del Monte land.

Mr Waititu, speaking during the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Thika Stadium on Wednesday, said when the company cedes part of its land - 635 acres - to the State, squatters from Kiandutu, Matharau, Gachagi and Umoja slums would be settled there.

Del Monte is hoping to have its land leases renewed.

“I would say 600 acres is a lot of land and even if we put public utilities and industries on 100 acres, we still will have a lot of land remaining to settle landless families," said Waititu.

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Waititu argued that the land in Kiandutu and other slums in Thika was not enough and it was time his administration looked for somewhere people could be resettled comfortably.

But while speaking to The Standard, National Lands Commission acting Chairperson Abagiel Mbagaya said if any land was to be surrendered, it would go solely for public use.

“That land is not for Kiambu County. If surrendered, it becomes public land and it has to be planned and allocated properly. It cannot go for private settlement," said Ms Mbagaya.

Thika MP Patrick Wainaina, who was present at the fete, said there was need for proper public participation and consultation on the Del Monte land.

Mr Wainaina said the 635 acres being given by the company was too little to settle all the people from the slums in Thika.

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“This is not the kind of land that you can tell people to go and subdivide among themselves. If you do that, it will only create violence and bloodshed,” said Wainaina.

Senator Kimani Wamatangi accused the governor of sidelining area leaders in the matter, saying the decision on whether to extend the lease for the firm could not be arrived at without involving the entire county leadership.

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Governor Ferdinand WaitituDel Monte landsquattersRelocation