Squatters cry foul after arson in Chepchoina scheme, West Pokot

A resident of Robinson village at Chepchoina Settlement Scheme, Trans Nzoia County, counts her losses after her home was torched. [Irissheel Shanzu, Standard]

Anxiety has gripped a settlement scheme along the border of West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties after suspected arsonists torched two houses on Sunday night.

Squatters at the controversial Chepchoina Settlement Scheme called on the police to end attacks they said happen every year, especially during planting season.

They claimed some people wanted to snatch land they were allocated at the scheme under Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) between 1994 and 1997, and called on the Government to intervene.

One of the victims, Richard Mwareng has been living the house of his late brother, former Sigor MP Wilson Litole. The house was destroyed during the attack.

He said Litole bought the land from ADC and that it would be wrong for anyone to demand the land.

“The house belonging to my late brother was razed down. We don’t know who burnt it and the motive,” said Mwareng.

Mr Alfred Wafula, a squatter, claimed government officials are sneaking people into the scheme so they can irregularly benefit from the land.

"We are sleeping in the cold after my house was burnt. My children escaped death narrowly. I have not reported the matter to the police for fear of harassment and more attacks," said Wafula.

Another resident, Ann Edung, said: "The government of former President Daniel arap Moi gave us allotment letters to the land we occupy. We call on the police to investigate the attacks and take action against perpetrators. They should also protect us."

Endebes Deputy County Commissioner Peter Maina noted the land dispute has been raging for many years, but assured residents of protection by the Government.

He said he had a list of those who had been given land, but the problem was double allocation which has led to conflicts.

"No one will be kicked out of the settlement scheme. However, there is a court order allowing only those with allotment letters to cultivate," said Maina.