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Kibicho Fingered In Sh15B Irregular Land Allocation In Kilifi

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A parliamentary committee has been told a body chaired by Interior Permanent Secretary (PS) Karanja Kibicho is behind the irregular allocation of a Sh15 billion public land in Kilifi county.

The National Development Implementation Technical Committee (NDItC) is said to have approved the hiving off of over 300,000 acres of Galana/Kulalu irrigation scheme without involving the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).

ADC board chairman Nick Salat made the revelations when he appeared before the National Assembly committee on Land.

Salat told MPs that although ADC is the legal owner of the land title for the 1.7 million acre land, it only learnt about the annexation of the land from the media when Water PS Joseph Irungu appeared on a TV show.

“Our attention was drawn by the sentiments of Joseph Irungu, Principal Secretary for Water and Sanitation, in his interview carried out by Citizen TV, on November 2, 2020 in which he expressed the government’s desire to dispose of the above captioned properties in various ways including allocation to squatters in Kilifi county,” he said.

“In this regard, we understand that a committee, being the NDITCC, has been mandated to deal with the matter. Being custodians and having held the subject land in trust of the government and engagements of private investors by the corporation, it is prudent that the corporation is involved in all aspects.”

Salat said there was a flurry of correspondence between ministries and other government agencies but both the ADC and the National Land Commission (NLC) that are legally mandated to handle the allocation were sidelined.

He added that a letter dated November 12, 2020 from the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning had requested ADC to allow a group of surveyors to conduct preliminary activities in the quest to implement the food security project as directed by the Cabinet.

“The corporation has not been informed formally of the directive by the Cabinet nor been involved in any of the consultative meetings.” A second letter of November 15, 2020 addressed to the Agriculture CS Peter Munya and copied to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Interior Affairs PS Karanja Kibicho, and Treasury CS Ukur Yatani also alluded to the plan. MPs now want NLC and the water ministry officials to appear before them to shed light on the encroachment of land.

The Lands Committee members questioned Salat on the involvement of the State parastatal in the protection of public land. The committee chaired by Kitui South MP Racheal Nyamai yesterday heard that some unscrupulous people have managed to hive off swathes of land with illegal activities already ongoing.

“There are a lot of activities ongoing that we don’t have information on. There are so many quarries with a danger that over 300,000 acres of land are in the hands of brokers and illegal occupants of the property,” Salat told the committee.

Protection of public land

Salat said that if the land in question could be valued, it will fetch in the estimate of Sh15 billion going by the current market value. He called on the committee members to visit the land in question and demanded that hiving off government land must get the approval of the National Assembly. “The land has a title deed under ADC. We cannot stop the government from giving out the land. But all we are asking for is being involved. We want to be involved in the processes,” said Salat.

But MPs Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Caleb Kositany (Soy) and Ali Wario (Bura) challenged ADC to engage with the NLC and the Ministry of Lands with a view to unmask how the land was hived off. “As ADC, you must engage NLC. All the concerned including Water and Lands PSs should appear before the committee to shed light. We cannot have a few PSs coming together to allow illegal activities to be carried out in public land,” said Kutuny.

Kutuny questioned why ADC has been reluctant to stop the encroachment.

“We need to find out who the encroachers are. We must bring NLC, Lands and Ministry Water to tell us why they are not protecting the government land,” said Kutuny.

According to Wario, retired President Mwai Kibaki gave out some swathes of land to the locals and asked ADC to acknowledge the gazettement of the parcel.

“Some 250,000 acres were given by President Kibaki to the locals. What happens?,” said Wario. But Salat charged back saying that any de-gazettement of any ADC land must be approved by Parliament.

“Those who encroached on the land have done some survey but have not succeeded to get the title deed. Any gazettement or degazettement cannot be done without the approval of parliament. It will always come to parliament for final approval,” said Salat.

He maintained that the ADC board should have passed a resolution indicating the need and reasons to sell or allocate any of its land. The same resolution is then communicated to the National Treasury for concurrence.

ADC should also have sought authority from the NLC with the board concurrence and NLC’s approval being taken to the National Assembly for debate and direction for annexing any of its land.

Last month, ADC protested the alienation of over 300,000 acres of public land saying unknown grabbers had invaded the land and were now subdividing and selling it to unsuspecting members of the public.

The land in dispute is valued at about Sh15 billion at an average of Sh50,000 per an acre for the 300,000 acres that is from the original 1.75 million Galana/Kulalu ranch.

In a letter dated April 9, ADC has asked the Ministry of Lands and National Land Commission (NLC) to intervene and reclaim the land. “The ADC has been drawn by the invasion of the land by few settlers who have cultivated less than ten acres in few small areas, adjudication process in the name of Adu Kamale, Adu Chamari, and Waka Adjudication sections and massive subdivision and clearing for access roads by land buying companies/private person,” ADC board chair Nick Salat says.

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Source: PD.


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