State collects Sh65 million from squatters to settle them on former MP’s land

The national government has began carving out land belonging to former MP Basil Criticos to settle squatters after he allegedly failed to pay a loan to a State corporation.

But the squatters are not getting land for free since they have to raise thousands of shillings to buy plots.

By yesterday, about 400 squatters of the projected 5,000 landless people had raised Sh65 million to pay the Agricultural Finance Corporation to get their share and title deeds.

The settlement programme comes after AFC agreed with Mr Criticos to settle the landless.

Last year, Criticos and AFC agreed the latter would sell part of the more than 7,200 acres owned by the former legislator to settle about 5,000 squatters in the region.

AFC Managing Director Lukas Meso and Taveta MP Naomi Shaban confirmed the Government had agreed with Criticos to sell part of his land to recover a loan of more than Sh400 million.

He disclosed that the squatters would be settled on 2,000 acres.

Yesterday, Mr Meso and AFC chairperson Franklin Bett distributed 484 title deeds to squatters at Eldoro and Mrabani villages in Taveta Sub-County. Public institutions, among them Eldoro Girls High and Eldoro Primary schools, were among the beneficiaries.

According to Meso, an acre goes for Sh150,000. He said the Government decided to relieve the squatters by paying for them Sh70,000 while they pay the balance.

Taveta Land Control Board had earlier given Criticos consent to sub-divide the disputed farm to settle the outstanding loan but was unable due to the heavy presence of hostile squatters.

Meanwhile, Taita-Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma and Mrs Shaban clashed in public over the recent land conflict at the disputed Sir Ramson Settlement Scheme.

The scheme donated by President Kenyatta family had in the recent past been an epicentre of conflict between the police, surveyors and the squatters.

The two leaders on Wednesday differed in public at a meeting held Mrabani village in Taveta sub-county.

Trouble started when Dr Shaban told the senator to keep off Sir Ramson land.

But when Mwaruma rose up to speak, he told off the MP, saying he did not need permission from any leader to traverse the area.

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