Blow as Kitui opts to lease minerals’ land

Leaders say proper consultations were not done before investors bought the property

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.

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