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Baringo Technical Training Institute's title deed goes missing as row over new varsity location rages

RIFT VALLEY
By Kiprotich Chepkoit | August 5th 2016
Baringo Central MP, Sammy Mwaita

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a title deed for land belonging to Baringo Technical Training Institute, which some leaders want turned into a university. However, residents are opposed to this idea.

The title deed for the institute's 19 acres, which was given to Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita for safe keeping in 2009, cannot be found and attempts by the board to get it have failed.

In a letter seen by The Standard, the institution, through principal Moses Sabulei, wrote to Mr Mwaita requesting him to surrender the title deed as well as the institution's seal.

"The board of governors of Baringo Technical College have directed me to humbly request your good office to kindly hand over the college title deed, Baringo Kapropita/616 and college seal. Please treat this as urgent," reads part of the letter dated October 28, 2015, and signed by Mr Sabulei.

The letter was copied to Baringo Governor Ben Cheboi, Senator Gideon Moi, the National Lands Commission and the director, Technical and Vocational Education Training.

A board member who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mwaita did not respond to the letter and efforts to meet with him regarding the impasse have been fruitless.

"It has been very difficult to get hold of the document and we are not sure if the status of the title is still the same," said the board member who added that they acquired the title in 2008, during the early stages of setting up the institute. And because there was no board in place at the time, the founding members agreed to hand it to the MP for safe custody in the constituency office.

"When the institution was being set up, there was no board and it was agreed that the MP should keep the title until a full board was inaugurated," said the board member.

The board was inaugurated in 2013.

The institute has been a battle ground for the area MP and residents over plans to set up a public university in the region.

Residents have gone to court to block plans to turn the institute into a university after Deputy President William Ruto backed Mwaita contrary to an earlier agreement by leaders. The DP's involvement in the matter is being seen as part of a supremacy battle between him and Gideon, who has supported the setting up of a university in Chemeron.

PLAY POLITICS

"What the DP did is play politics with our university," said Kipruto Kimosop, chairman of the Baringo Human Rights Consortium.

He said the argument that the technical institute already had structures in place did not hold water given that the Government had already allocated Sh500 million for the setting up of a public university.

"Where would this money go? If we are not careful, people are looking at how to divert the money and justify using the structures already built by the community," said Mr Kimosop.

According to a document seen by The Standard, the governor, senator, and MPs Mwaita, William Cheptumo, Asman Kamama, Moses Lessonet, Grace Kipchoim and Grace Kiptui passed a resolution to have the first public university set up in Chemeron.

"We the leaders of Baringo County, having deliberated on the establishment of Baringo University, resolve that the university funded by the national government will be located in Chemeron," reads part of the resolution signed by all the leaders, apart from Mogotio MP Hellen Sambili.

Kapropita Ward MCA Solomon Chemjor said it was unfortunate that Mwaita would start pushing for the institute to be turned into a university yet he was part of the deliberations that agreed to have it in Chemeron.

"There is more than meets the eye on this issue. Why did Mwaita agree with the leaders then go against the agreement he signed?" questioned Mr Chemjor.

Future expansion

In a petition already sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Chemjor said the deal was also fishy given that only 39 acres was available at the technical institute yet the Chemeron site had 1,100 acres available for the set up and future expansion of the university.

"We the people of Baringo have no objection to the establishment of a university and that is why the community set aside 1,100 acres in Chemeron. The assembly even passed a motion approving the location and we wonder why the area MP and Deputy President are going against the people's wishes," reads the petition.

The community has also petitioned the Commission for University Education in the High Court, restraining it from approving the university's location at the technical institution after Mwaita wrote to the Ministry of Education asking it to surrender the institution to allow for the establishment of a university.

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