Residents eject surveyors from Delmonte land

Aerial view of a section of Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in Thika, Murang'a County. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Drama unfolded after surveyors from Murang'a County government were ejected from a portion of land at Delmonte Kenya Limited (DKL).

A team of surveyors scampered to safety after their attempts to access the 1,400-acre land the pineapple processor ceded to the county government were thwarted by irate Kandara Residents Association members.

The residents blocked the county government officials from accessing the land by barricading the road with stones and logs.

Residents are opposed to the demarcation of the land until they get their share of the disputed parcel following the directive by National Land Commission over the historical injustice meted out to forefathers.

The surveyors were under instructions to survey 100 acres where Kenol Level Five Hospital would be constructed.

Other projects to be developed on the land include an industrial zone, a regional wholesale market, a university, and colleges among others.

Angry residents stopped the surveyors on grounds that the issues between their association and the devolved unit were yet to be concluded in the High Court after a status quo order was issued awaiting the matter to be heard and determined.

Residents have accused Governor Irungu Kang'ata of implementing the project on the said land well aware of the ongoing proceedings in Court

Led by Patrick Karau, a resident of Nguthuru they vowed to stay put until the county government gives them a share of the land in question.

"There is no turning back until the locals get their share from the parcel of land they have been directed to obtain by the NLC," said Karau.

This comes a week after the county government held a public participation forum at Makeji where the locals indicated that they were not against the project but required the government to assist them in resolving their issues pertaining to the land.

Geoffrey Kairu, who leads the residents association said there was need for a truce between them and the county government over the matter at hand.

Parliament and NLC had resolved that the county take 30 percent and Kandara Residents Association get 70 percent of the ceded land.

When reached for comment, Governor Kang'ata said he was aware that the matter was in court and pleaded with the residents to allow him to use only three acres of the land to transfer Keneth Matiba Hospital from Kenol to Makeji as they sort out the matter.

He said although the residents have a democratic right to protest, they still need services from his government including the hospital.

"How we wish we could allocate them land, but we have no power to allocate them as the matter is in court. We need to start construction of the hospital the soonest to benefit the Kandara people," said the governor.