Leaders ask Uhuru to stop planned eviction

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka addresses Mavoko residents during a fact-finding mission following an order to evict over 14,300 squatters settled in part of the 12,000 acres of East African Portland land. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Ukambani leaders have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in a land row pitting squatters against the East Africa Portland Cement Company.

The leaders, who visited Mavoko in Machakos County on Sunday, want the president to save squatters from evictions from the contested land planned for later this month.

They were led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (pictured).

“We will petition the president once he comes back to the country. We will be appealing to him to pardon our people on this matter that has taken so long to be solved,”’ said Kalonzo.

The Wiper party leader said according to the law, the land should be returned to the community because the Athi River-based cement company was done with its mining venture.

“This issue is very clear, the said piece of land should be handed over to the community once the company is done with mining.There must be some people who are misleading the president and his government on this matter,” he said.

Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka urged the squatters to stay put.

“I’m advising you not to move even an inch, this land belongs to the community and not outsiders,” said Kabaka.

Others who accompanied Kalonzo were Mavoko MP Patrick Makau and Machakos Woman Rep Joyce Kamene, among others.

More than 14,300 squatters settled in part of the 12,000 acres within Mavoko, Machakos County, after the cement maker announced intentions to sell some parcels to raise working capital for the cash-strapped company.

Recently, the cement maker gave a notice to all the squatters living in the land to leave.

Rescinded promise

According to the squatters, their journey to legally own the land dates back to 2010 when the company reportedly promised to sell the land to the community but two years later rescinded the decision.

Having settled on the land after the cement maker exhausted mining activities, the squatters applied for subdivision and development of the land in the hope of buying it.

On August 22, the company proposed that shareholders surrender 4,256 acres to the government to set up affordable housing.