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Residents demand tittles for alternative land before giving room for dam project

By Stephen Rutto | February 24th 2019

Construction of a Sh35 billion Arror multi-purpose dam in Elgeyo Marakwet is facing challenges after locals rejected a gazetted list of beneficiaries for compensation. 

The National Lands Commission (NLC) last week presented to residents of Kipsaiya, Marakwet West sub-county where the dam will be established the gazette list, but locals yesterday dismissed it. They demand to be shown title deeds for the pieces of land where they will be resettled before any other steps are taken. 

The displeased residents said they have lost confidence in implementation of the project that they claimed is ‘shrouded in secrecy’.  Establishment of Arror dam is being implemented by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and the construction was awarded to Italian company - CMC di Ravena. 

NLC officials have been camping in the area for the one week to issue copies of gazette notices to residents of Kipsaiya, Chesoi and Maina to rectify any errors in terms of misspelt names, land registration numbers or acreage among others. 

According to Peter Kaunda, a land valuer with NLC, after issuing the notice, NLC would have to conduct a valuation exercise on any development on the land for compensation after residents agreed to be given land for land. 

Resettlement plan

According to their chairman Samwel Mwale, while KVDA, which is implementing the project had shown the committee the land they intended to resettle them in, it was yet to purchase the same. 

“KVDA should have started by purchasing the 11 plots they have shown us in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties before continuing with the valuation exercise,” Mwale said. 

“We have had cases where men take off after getting compensation payout, leaving their families in abject poverty. We don’t want that to happen to us and that is why we are demanding land before any construction begins,” said Mary Rotich, a resident of the village. 

Robert Maiyo, secretary to the residents’ committee said there were other challenges they wanted addressed citing the issue of sub division of land saying most of them especially the youth don’t have title deeds as the land is still held by the family patriarchs.  “We are therefore calling on KVDA to ensure that the land is surveyed and sub divided so that each of the beneficiaries gets their share once we are relocated,” Maiyo said. 

The residents also have an issue on the valuation to be carried out by NLC saying they want an earlier valuation commissioned by KVDA and undertaken by a private valuer to be used. However, Kaunda informed them that according to the law, compensation by the government can only be paid based on valuation by NLC.  “The valuation by the private valuer was only meant for budgeting purposes to give an estimate of how much is required for compensation,” he said. 

This comes even as the government released Sh900 million of the Sh6.8 billion for compensation to residents in key areas where the dams, camp and industrial site will be constructed.

People leaving in this areas according to KVDA managing director David Kimosop will be the first to be relocated in the exercise which is expected to be done in phases. 

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