Former CEC cry's foul after house on alleged grabbed land demolished

When Kenya Railways Corporation evicted families and demolished houses illegally built on its land. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

A former Trans Nzoia County Executive Member was left in tears after her rental apartment in Kitale was demolished in the ongoing exercise targeting occupiers of alleged grabbed public land.

Ms Elizabeth Nyongesa, who served in former governor Patrick Khaemba's administration as lands CEC, claimed ownership of the property and parcel of land that she said she acquired through leasehold for 99 years since 1981.

Governor George Natembeya had constituted a taskforce to investigate and recommend necessary actions, with the view of repossessing all public land in private hands.

The taskforce said it established the parcel of land in which Ms Nyongesa built the apartment was public land meant for establishment of the county stadium, whose construction begun late February and that she had to move out to pave way for the infrastructure.

But in a document seen by the Standard, Ms Nyongesa claims she acquired the land LR. No. 2116/276 in the year 1981 under the Registration of Titles Act, chapter 281 granted by the President of the Republic of Kenya.

The Standard could, however, not independently establish the authenticity of the document.

A disgruntled Ms Nyongesa, who witnessed the demolitions said that since she acquired the parcel legally, she has left it to God to fight for her after her efforts to prove this through her documents to the taskforce were greeted with a deaf ear.

Curious onlookers stared at the structure, some in dismay, as the building that was adjacent to the Kenyatta Stadium along the Laini Moja Street in the outskirts of Kitale town was demolished in rubbles with billowing dust from the debris.

Looters also took advantage of the situation to get steel rods, among other valuables from the debris, some who immediately sold them out to scrap metal dealers around as they turned the exercise into their fortunes.

County Lands Executive Janerose Mutama said land grabbers had hindered the construction of the multi-million stadium that is being established to meet international standards as a way of boosting sporting activities in the county.

She said the county administration would not relent on the war against land grabbing, adding that no amount of intimidation will stop it from restoring what the public rightfully owns for the purpose of establishing common public amenities.

Last month, government, the county also evicted a senior police officer from a public land where she allegedly rented out the servants quarters and farmed on a piece of the piece of land in Kitale's Milimani area illegally.

The actions have triggered mixed reactions, with a section of the public praising the governor for cracking the whip on land grabbers even as others registered their disappointments, alleging that due processes were not followed.

"I am happy that the governor is now walking the talk. He promised to restore all grabbed public land in the county during his campaigns, and indeed he has set the wheels rolling. We laud and encourage him that we shall accord him the necessary support," said Julius Omenda, a resident.

Last month, the governor unearthed a syndicate in which lands officials at Kitale Ardhi House process fake titles swindling money from unsuspecting members of the public, prompting him to shut down the offices pending investigations.