Police are pursuing Nandi governor Stephen Sang following destruction of tea at a multi-national tea firm in Nandi Hills sub-county.
Nandi County Police Commander Thomas Ngeiywa said last evening that they were looking for the governor to explain destruction of some 2,500 mature tea bushes at Kibwari estate managed under the agency of Eastern Produce Kenya (EPK) Ltd.
“We are looking for the governor who was at the tea estate on Friday evening and part of yesterday where some 1 acre of mature tea was destroyed,” Ngeiywa told Sunday Standard last evening.
There was drama on Friday when the governor led a team of county officials and residents in storming the multi-national-managed tea estate where tea bushes were allegedly destroyed.
Armed with a power saw, caterpillar and accompanied by county surveyors and residents of Ketchem-Kapteng area in in Nandi Hills, Sang joined in the uprooting of the cash crop in a move, he said, meant to repossess some four acre piece of land allegedly grabbed from the community.
The county chief joined residents who alleged the piece of land under the cash crop was grabbed from the community in 2003 some 23 years after a white man reportedly surrendered it for the construction of a cattle dip. According to the governor, the land was grabbed for the purposes of expanding tea production.
“We are here as a County Government in response to a complaint that was raised by members of this community about this four acre piece of land that used to serve as a cattle dip that they built using their own money,” Said governor Sang.
It was claimed the land had been earmarked for Kaburet cattle dip that was built in 1980 when the Whiteman handed it over to squatters who were farm hands.
Yesterday, Ngeiywa, the police commander said issues need to be solved through amicable channels including legal processes. Sources hinted yesterday that the land is under a pending court case in the High Court.
“People need to sort out issues through legal manner rather than resorting to destruction,” said the commander.
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During the process, residents claimed they formed a Sacco and each of them contributed two shillings and fifty cents, according to the governor, so as to build the dip.
Some of the members of the Sacco who were not able to raise the 2.50 sold out their cows to contribute towards construction of the cattle dip.
According to Steve Rotich, the son to one of the squatters told Sunday Standard that the white man gave out public utility plots for schools, centers and for cattle dip.
“This piece of land was the first to be handed over by the white man to our fathers, which is the central place of the three places he gave out to the squatters,” he said.
Rotich further added that the white man only gave their fathers the land and Masonry who would build them the dip and it would be upon their responsibility for them to pay him and buy the materials.
Governor Sang said the residence have suffered a lot since the demolition of the cattle dip.
“The challenge they have face is that they are unable to access the services of a cattle dip because it was maliciously damaged,” he said.
Sang said that the County is a known region for dairy farming and the residents have not been able the access to the cattle dip services like vaccination.
After the complaint was address to the County Government, Sang said they had to carry out the investigation and had to ensure that they got the maps.
“We have done survey work and identified the picoting. Everything is now clear and the maps confirm that the Kaburet dip was actually grabbed from the public utility,” said Sang.
Yesterday, Allan Kosgey, a director at Kibwari Company visited the area and criticized destruction of tea saying the governor should have waited for the conclusion of pending cases in the High Court in Eldoret and Nairobi.
“Destruction of property should not be condoned. The governor should have waited for the matter to be concluded,” said Kosgey.
During governor Sang’s storm in the estate, an aide to the former cabinet minister was roughed up by Sang and supporters when he met entry into the tea estate.
By yesterday afternoon, security personnel had been deployed to maintain order in the area.
He further added that they appreciate the fact that the cattle dips fall on the hands of the county government and that they are the owners of the facility and they hold it in trust of the local community.
“We have made provisions to build a new cattle dip and retain the old one as a monument to remind ourselves of the atrocities that was done to this cattle dip.” He said.
He said that this marked as the begging of re-claiming back the public lands as well as the utility that has been allegedly grabbed by private investors.
“We are excited as a county that we placed our issues of the historical land injustices issues before the National Land Commission (NLC) and they gave us a serious and favorable ruling.
He further added: “We are going to pursue each and every right in terms of land that was grabbed in our communities and ensure that every community gets back their land and benefit from it.”