Ex-MP Basil Criticos strikes deal on 3,000 acres for landless residents

Basil Criticos.PHOTO BY MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD

Former MP Basil Criticos has offered 2,000 acres to be sold to landless residents.

This adds to the 1,000 acres that the politician offered to donate to poor squatters.

The former health assistant minister is one of the major landowners in the county, with more than 7,200 acres in his name.

Taveta Land Control Board gave Mr Criticos consent to sub-divide part of his vast farm to settle squatters and to service a Sh75 million loan he owes the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).

Documents seen by The Standard show that the politician, who is contesting the Taveta seat on a Kanu party ticket, has been issued with a letter of consent following his application on May 5 this year.

In an interview, the former legislator, who will be running against his perennial rival Naomi Shaban in the August 8 elections, said the deal would settle the long-running dispute between him and landless squatters once and for all.

Criticos confirmed that he had struck a deal with the Government and AFC to settle thousands of squatters in the region on part of his farm.

He said the parties had agreed to dispose of about 2,000 acres to offset the loan with priority going to landless residents who could afford it.

He has also donated more than 1,000 acres to settle about 3,500 squatters in Eldoro, Kimorigo, Python Hill, Mboghoni, Kimorigo and Mrabani among other areas.

"The thorny squatter issue will be a thing of the past once we complete the settlement programme to which I am fully committed," he said.

The settlement will bring to an end the controversy surrounding the squatters and the politician, who originally owned 72,000 acres acquired back in 1972.

Since then, he has been fighting to reclaim large swathes from invading squatters and the Government.

Under the new arrangement, squatters will be given title deeds for the land they currently occupy.

Taveta Deputy County Commissioner Henry Wafula said only genuine squatters would be resettled.

"This is a mammoth settlement exercise. We will ensure that only genuine squatters receive title deeds," he said.

 

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