Residents paralyse services at Kabunde airstrip

Residents demonstrate at Kabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay County to demand compensation for their land. [James Omoro]

Services were yesterday paralysed at Kabunde airstrip by locals who were demanding to be compensated for their land.

The residents claim that Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has refused to pay them for the land  it took for the construction of the airstrip two years ago. 

A passenger aircraft that was supposed to land from Nairobi at 7.25 am delayed for more than one hour.

The protestors were led by Kabunde Land Owners Association Chairman Joseph Muga, Spokesperson Charles Okumu and area MCA Julius Nyambok.

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Mr Muga said the residents had resorted to demonstrations after several meetings with KAA on the issue bore no fruits.

“This matter started in 2016 and we have held many meetings with KAA on the compensation issue. All we get are empty promises,” Muga said.

He expressed concern that KAA is holding 25 title deeds belonging to residents despite not compensating them.

Mr Okumu said the association has given KAA a one-week ultimatum to pay or return the title deeds

“We are going to court after one week, if KAA fails to return the title deeds since it has proved that it doesn't want to pay us,” Okumu said.

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“Land owners can use the title deeds as loan collateral for loans which will bring them economic gain."

Mr Nyabok said: “This is a good project, but we cannot allow KAA to frustrate our people." KAA Manager in charge of the airstrip Wycliffe Kadoya admitted that there was a problem with compensation.

He said his bosses were handling it from the agency's headquarters in Nairobi.

“I plead with the protesters to calm down. Let them give me time to talk to my bosses,” Mr Kadoya said.

But his pleas fell on deaf ears, with the demonstration continuing for than five hours.

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KAAKenya Airports AuthorityKabunde Land Owners AssociationKabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay County