Investors who bought land for extraction of minerals in Kitui county several years ago risk losing millions of shillings after local leaders opted to lease the land in the minerals cut lines.
Led by Governor Charity Ngilu, the leaders said proper consultations were not done before the firms bought the land.
“It is a pity that one of the largest cement manufacturers went on to buy land in limestone-rich areas of Ngaaie and Kanziko without involving the county government and other stakeholders, therefore, shortchanging residents,” said Ngilu.
The governor said leasing will enable the residents to benefit fully, adding that the land bought by the investors had no title deeds resulting in under valuation.
She said her government will revoke some of the mineral mining licences issued by the defunct county councils as most of them were issued illegally.
During a mining stakeholders consultative meeting at Kitui Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) and attended by Mining and Petroleum Cabinet secretary John Munyes, the leaders decried delay in extraction of minerals in the region including coal, limestone, copper and iron ore.
Ngilu and Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu wondered why mining of coal in Mui Basin has not started years after the local leaders and the community signed both the addendum and the Benefits Sharing Agreement (BSA).
“As much as we support President Uhuru Kenyatta Big Four agenda, something should be done to unlock this region’s potential and one way is to exploit huge minerals deposits available here,” said Ngilu.
Munye said investors should not be afraid to lease the land saying leasing period will enable the firms to recoup their investment.
The former Senator, who was accompanied by Principal Secretary John Omenge, said the country is losing billions of shillings by failing to exploit huge minerals deposits discovered especially in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands.
Omenge said the ministry will crackdown on briefcase investors who obtained licence es from the defunct local government authorities through dubious means. “There are so many mineral prospectors who end up swindling unsuspecting land owners,” said Omenge.