The community living around Yala Swamp in Siaya county has given the national and county governments a one week ultimatum to commence the survey and demarcation of the swamp failing which they will invade it.
Area residents, among them four members of the county assembly, accused some top politicians and wheeler dealers who have grabbed huge tracts of land in the swamp of frustrating efforts by the community to reclaim their land.
They were speaking during a public meeting at Msunguru grounds in Kadenge Ratuoro village on Tuesday.
They said they will use all means possible to ensure that any investor in the swamp does not trample on their basic rights such as land ownership, right to farming and food production.
Addressing the occasion, Central Alego MCA, Leonard Oriaro accused Siaya Governor, Cornel Rasanga of taking the Yala swamp community for a ride by failing to implement directives from the National Lands Commission.
The Commission, they said, had directed the county government to survey the area and demarcate it to create a boundary between the community and the 3,700 hectares that was set aside for American investor, Dominion Farms Limited.
“Rasanga must wake up from the slumber and serve Siaya residents” said Oriaro, adding that failure to act on the residents’ demands will have serious repercussions.
The Yimbo East MCA, Francis Otiato said some senior politicians and their cronies were frustrating efforts to survey and mark boundaries between the investor and the community for fear of losing what they grabbed from the public.
“These people have over the years grabbed acres of land in the swamp and have been hiding under the guise of the investor.
Now that NLC has issued directives for clear demarcation, they have chosen to frustrate the efforts,” said Otiato.
The MCA said that some of the unscrupulous individuals own more than 100 acres, part of which were grabbed from widows who were chased away by the police and hired goons on allegations that the investor was expanding his activities.
“What is so difficult in surveying and fencing 3,700 hectares? The Lord Delamere family has fenced their land which is bigger and the public knows clearly that they cannot trespass” said Otiato, a former police officer.
The Usonga MCA, Sylvester Madialo said the local community will not rest until they get what historically belonged to them.
“We welcome investors but the investor rights should not subordinate local community rights” he said.
The leaders, who included West Alego MCA, Felix Okumu alias Judy, appealed to former prime minister, Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta to intervene and have the matter resolved urgently before it gets out of hand.
By Philip Onyango