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Villagers in Uhuru’s homeplace up in arms about their land; latest scandal from Gatundu


Even as Kiambu County continues to be the current epicenter of the country’s political activities, with the Kiambaa by-election campaigns being the showpiece of the tussle, a storm is brewing in the president’s backyard.

 


A dramatic spectacle was witnessed after Njeri, an old widow of a deceased Njoroge invaded ongoing works at Karimenu, in Gatundu. She invaded the site which is an area of construction of a dam. The bone of contention is a scandalous land issue that has dragged on for years, and threatened to stall what is now risking to turn into another Kimwarer-Arror scandal in the president’s very own backyard.

 


In 2019, an ambitious project began at Karimenu in Gatundu, and it required at least 600 acres of land to be surrendered to the construction work that had began.
The Sh24 billion project was said to be funded by the Government of Kenya and the China Exim Bank. The construction work was being supervised by the International Holding Corporation (AVIC) and Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute.


A 59-meter dam project had been scheduled for completion in June 2022.


In September 2020, the PS in charge of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Joseph Wairagu, pledged that the project would be complete three months to deadline.


The mega project has three main components, including a dam, a large water treatment plant and a 67-kilometre raw and treated water pipeline.


However, the project has since been hit by a string of controversies, and the latest incident is that of locals chasing away construction workers from the Sh24 billion Karimenu II Dam project, claiming they were yet to be compensated for land surrendered to the Government.


In their hundreds, the irate residents forced excavator operators to dig trenches at key points of entry and exit. The group, thereafter, ordered all construction workers to evacuate the site.


The locals claim the Government was yet to compensate them for the surrendered parcels of land, collectively valued at Sh2.2 billion.

 


The land under dispute measures 383 acres.
Kamau Gathanji, one of the affected residents, said they were surprised to see a contractor on site, yet they hadn’t received any money from the State.
“We will pitch camp on this site until we are paid our money,” said Gathanji, vowing to oppose construction operations.


The group claims most of them have been reduced to destitution over lack of finances.

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    Written by Joshua Wanga

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