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Kenyatta family offers 2,000 acres to settle squatters

COAST
By Renson Mnyamwezi | January 16th 2016

The settling hundreds of squatters occupying land belonging to the Kenyatta family in Taita Taveta County has started, The Standard has reliably learned.

According to senior county and national government officials, more than 1,000 squatters living in Sir Ramson area, part of the vast 30,000 acre Gicheha Farm owned by the Kenyatta family in Taveta Sub-county, will benefit from the settlement programme that started three months ago.

Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu and Taveta Deputy County Commissioner Heribae Nkaduda have confirmed that the family has decided to release part of the land to settle the squatters.

Mr Mruttu said the Kenyattas’ had handed over about 2,000 acres to settle the landless. “The family has decided to settle the squatters living on the farm and the beneficiaries must accept what they will be given,” said the governor.

Mruttu and Mr Nkaduda said the owners of the land and officials from the Ministry of Lands were currently conducting survey and planning on the vast farm.

“The Ministry of Lands’ technical staff are currently on the farm conducting survey and planning work. We expect the process to mature soon,” Nkaduda said on Thursday.

Mruttu disclosed that among the would-be beneficiaries are Kenyans expelled from Tanzania in 1974. “Other beneficiaries are former sisal plantation workers,” disclosed the governor.

Brookside Dairy Ltd General Manager in-charge of Gicheha Farms John Gethi declined to comment over the on-going settlement programme.

“I am not in a position to comment about it,” he said when contacted on Thursday.

But there has been hue and cry over the manner in which the settlement programme is being undertaken, with the beneficiaries claiming that some squatters might be locked out of the settlement programme.

“We are not aware of what is going on in the farm,” claimed Shikuku Ndambuki, who settled in the area in 1974.

The father of 12 expressed fear that he might lose part of his three-acre farm in the ongoing survey work.

Tsavo National Park occupies about 65 per cent of the total land area in Taita taveta County while private farms 24 per cent. Locals occupy less than 12 per cent.

Jointly, the Kenyatta and Basil Criticos families own a combined total of more than 82,000 acres of land in Taita Taveta. It is estimated that more than 210,000 people of the entire Taita Taveta population of 284,000 people are squatters.

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