Thika residents question Waititu, Del Monte deal

Oliver Musembi and Mathew Ndung’ú @PeopleDailyKe

Residents of Gatuanyaga ward in Thika East have rejected a deal in which Del Monte Kenya Ltd recently surrendered 635 acres of land to Kiambu County government.

The residents have written to the National Land Commission (NLC) and Governor Ferdinand Waititu expressing dissatisfaction in the deal signed by him and Del Monte management, saying there was no public participation.

 The letter signed by lawyer Ishmael Nguring’a gives the concerned parties a seven-day ultimatum to address the issues raised by the community or face court action.

 But at an interview with Kameme FM yesterday, Waititu said the deal was “just a memorandum of understanding” and would be subjected to public participation.

A meeting addressed by the lawyer and the community representatives led by David Chege and Joseph Gachegechi on Saturday resolved that a proposal to build an airstrip in the area would not benefit residents.

also opposed a move to create an industrial park and a rehabilitation centre, saying demarcation of the land must leave room for public utilities such as markets, schools and hospitals.

Waititu had said 200 acres would be set aside for the construction of an airstrip while the rest would be for commercial and residential purposes, adding that slum dwellers from Thika’s Kiandutu slum would be resettled in the land.

However, the residents dismissed the proposal and said only squatters from the flood-prone Kisiiki village in Kilimambogo should be allocated land there.

“Due process should be followed while demarcating the community land in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of the National Land Commission Act, which protects interests of the community,” said Nguring’a.

Political leaders including Waititu, Senator Kimani Wamatangi, Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba, area MP Patrick Wainaina and MCA Kahira Wambui, who were invited to the meeting, failed to attend. However, speaking on the phone, Wainaina said an industrial park would help create jobs for residents.

Meanwhile, NLC is committed to mediate cases of historical injustices meted on Murang’a and Kiambu residents by individuals and multinational organisations such as Del Monte.

Speaking last Friday in Thika after a meeting on historical injustices against the residents of Kandara constituency, NLC commissioner Samuel Tororei urged aggrieved parties to give dialogue a chance as they address the injustices committed during land take-over in colonial times.

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