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Laikipia farmers demand Sh350m for quarrying of ballast

RIFT VALLEY
By MURIMI MWANGI | November 28th 2013

By MURIMI MWANGI

Laikipia County, Kenya: A group of farmers from Laikipia County have sued the Government and a road contractor over excavation of ballast on a disputed piece of land.

Gatarakwa Farmers Limited members are demanding Sh350 million  for quarrying of the road construction material.

The farmers claim they bought  the  85,000-acres located along the Nyeri-Nyahururu highway between 1973 and 1979 from European owners.

According to documents used to file the suit, the dispute dates back to 1986 when the Government took over the land and earmarked it as a quarry and a dam.

The Government allegedly leased it in  2009 for five years to contractor, G.Issaias and Company Limited.

G.Issaias and Company was at the time developing various roads in Nyeri County, and allegedly excavated most of its construction material from the land.

The farmers claim the lease was meant to fraudulently provide the contractor with free construction material which it used to develop 180 km of road.

“The real purpose was to enable the second respondent to get free ballast for constructing roads under contracts issued by the first respondent,” reads the petition in part.

Through their lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria, the farmers want the court to find that the Government has no powers to dispossess the owners of the plot.

Exclusive right

“All the material and beneficial ownership in respect to the land has always been vested in the petitioner. The petitioner alone has exclusive right to lease the same to the tenants,” claim the farmers.

They have sued the Attorney General on behalf of the ministry of Lands.

Two directors of the construction company, Mr Collins Scott and Mr Parais Issaias, have been listed as respondents in the case.

In his ruling dated November 20 2013, Justice Anthony Ombwayo of the Nyeri Environment and Land Court issued an order restraining the two from leaving the jurisdiction of the court until the completion of the suit.

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