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VAS

Mumias on the spot as State denounces sale of land

CARTOON
By | September 7th 2011

By Joel Okwayo

 

The sale of land at Nasewa in Busia County by Mumias Sugar Company is illegal, the Ministry of Agriculture has said.

The ministry said the 841-acre piece of land in Nambale is Government property.

The State is now working with the Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) to find an investor to build a sugar factory on the disputed land.

“We do not understand how the land was sold as the ministry was kept in the dark,” said the Western Provincial Director of Agriculture, John Cheruiyot.

Mr Cheruiyot said the Ministry of Lands should explain the controversial sale.

The sugar miller sold the piece of land to recover a Sh100 million debt owed by Busia Sugar Company.

But the residents have since disputed the amount and the eventual sale, arguing the land did not belong to the defunct Busia Sugar Company, but Government, which acquired it in 1990s at Sh90 million from residents as part of its percentage with investors.

Led by the Western Development Initiative Association vice-chair Joseph Barasa, the residents have petitioned the Government and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, to help repossess the land under dispute.

Mumias MP Ben Washiali has also called on the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and that of Agriculture to probe the matter, saying it was illegal for MSC to sell public land without getting relevant authorisation from Government.

Sugar board directors Billy Wanjala and Mohammed Mukhwana have termed the sale illegal, saying Mumias bypassed the board in the sale.

They also said the miller had exaggerated the debt owed, adding that MSC was only required to recover Sh69 million and not Sh100 million.

“Audits show that Mumias recovered its money from the cane it cultivated on the farm,” said Wanjala.

He urged the Minister for Agriculture Sally Kosgey to call an urgent KSB meeting to discuss the matter.

West Kenya is willing to relocate to Busia to put up a factory if the board clears it.

 

Private investment

 

This, the management of West Kenya says, will enable it serve over 40,000 cane farmers in the zone.

“We are aware that there is a public land which was earmarked for a sugar miller around Nasewa region.

“We are willing to abide by legislations and policies that are in place regarding acquisition of such land for private investment purposes,” read part of the letter to KSB acting Chief Executive Officer Solomon Odera.

But Barasa has asked on Government to make an advertisement inviting investors on the said land without any political interference.

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