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Former First Lady lucy Kibaki fought for welfare of evictees

KENYA
By Francis Ngige | April 28th 2016
Mama Lucy Kibaki in 2006

Mama Lucy Kibaki was known for her benevolence in her native Nyeri region.

Her compassion was well illustrated by her steadfast fight for the resettlement of thousands of people who had been evicted from Government forests in the late 1980s.

Touched by the plight of the families camping on roadsides, Mama Lucy started lobbying for their welfare and the issue was resolved in 2010 when the Government bought land for their resettlement.

The former First Lady was instrumental in securing the Solio Settlement Scheme in Nyeri for squatters who had lived a squalid life on roadsides after being evicted from Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests more than two decades before.

And yesterday, grief engulfed the settlement scheme when the news of Mama Lucy’s death reached the area. The residents described her death as a big blow to them and to the country.

James Maina Mugo, who led the resettlement fight at the expansive scheme, said the former First Lady was passionate about the issue.

“It was a personal victory for her when most of the families were finally resettled on this land. We were very close to her,” said Mr Mugo.

The 15,000-acre land was bought by the Government at a cost of Sh1.2 billion.

When The Standard highlighted the plight of squatters in the early days of Mwai Kibaki’s presidency, the First Lady was the first to react, asking to be taken to the area to see for herself their miseries.

The Office of the President and the then local MP Ephraim Maina led the efforts to resettle the families.

Yesterday, Maina described Mama Lucy’s death as a big loss to the country as she was always a mother figure and mentor.

In 2008, the land was demarcated and allocated to the families. Each family got a half-acre plot to set up a house and a four-acre land for farming.

Fresh audit

According to a gazette notice, Solio was supposed to cater for 3,100 squatters who had camped along roads in Ragati, Hombe, Chehe, Kabaru and Ndathi in Mt Kenya Forest. Also to be considered were squatters from Zaina, Kabage and Kiandongoro in Aberdare Forest.

But when the resettlement was completed in 2008, most of the squatters remained in the cold. About 800 squatters from Kiandongoro were completely left out of the resettlement.

It later emerged politicians and members of the provincial administration used their influence to dish out land to relatives and friends.

Parliament and anti-corruption agencies are investigating how part of the land was allocated to non-squatters. Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has ordered a fresh audit to find out the non-squatters who benefited.

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