Construction of the 47km Mombasa-Mariakani road has run into headwinds with the residents accusing the National Land Commission (NLC) of undervaluing their property.
The commission gazetted its intention to compulsorily acquire parcels of land on behalf of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) in January to pave way for a dual carriageway.
But some residents now claim the compensation process has been full of irregularities and that they were given a raw deal on the value of land and buildings affected by the expansion.
Some have complained of alleged interference by middlemen who they accuse of colluding with NLC officials involved in the valuation process to doctor documents. The residents have now threatened to move to court to block the project.
“I have built a commercial property around Jomvu and which has been earmarked for demolition, but when valuers brought the forms for me to sign I was only awarded Sh700,000 which is too little compared to the value of my property,” said Joel Nteere.
On Monday, some of the residents declined to sign compensation documents from the NLC, triggering yet another push and pull scenario similar to that of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
“NLC has given us a deadline of this month to sign the documents but some of us refused because we feel being conned,” added Nteere while addressing reporters at Uhuru Gardens Square where the group had gathered for demonstrations.
The amended land legislation states that failure to lay claim means the commission can take over the ownership of those pieces of land in public interest on behalf of Kenya Railways Corporation without compensation.
“I was given just Sh150,000 which is very little and I have a family. What we want is our leaders to intervene and help us solve this problem because we are going to suffer because of very poor valuation process,” said another resident.
The Land Act allows the commission to take possession of uncultivated or pasture or arable land upon expiry of the 15 days from the date of publication of the notice of intention to acquire.
The rehabilitation and expansion of the heavily trafficked highway forms part of Kenya’s drive to transform the 2,000km Northern Corridor into an effective tool for increasing trade.