Over 300 families have got relief after the national government suspended the eviction exercise of Kanana residents on a land that it had leased to Kwale International Sugar Company, (KISCOL) at Ramisi area in Kwale County.
The KISCOL firm aims at maximizing sugarcane production by expanding its plantation on the 4800 acre land in Ramisi.
The Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS), Dr. Fred Matiang’i last week ordered the suspension of the evictions until residents’ concerns and fears were fully addressed by the investor.
The locals had decried massive destruction and loss of unknown value of property as a result of the evictions.
About 200 acres of land had been affected by the eviction exercise that begun three weeks ago.
Bakari Khalfan, one of the affected residents said tractors entered their lands uprooting crops thus incurring losses.
“These are our farms and for two weeks now tractors have been leveling our lands destroying everything and there are old trees like Mangoes, coconuts among others which took a lot of time to mature now they are gone. We have incurred loss beyond comprehension,” he said.
Khalfan said their daily activities have been disrupted by the evictions and welcomed the order to suspend them.
“Since they started small scale farmers cannot proceed with their normal activities. Businesses that were booming a long these villages have paralyzed making it almost impossible for us to work,” said Khalfan.
The residents said eviction exercise was conducted abruptly causing distress to the community.
According to Wendo Omar, a resident said Ramisi scheme had some pending issues which were partially addressed by the previous grand-coalition government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
Omar said survey was conducted and locals were offered allotments letters awaiting title deeds for their lands. They want KISCOL to compensate them for the loss incurred.
Kwale women representative Zuleikha Hassan who joined the residents urged the government to find a lasting solution saying the region has experienced frequent land wrangles which need to be addressed completely.
“We have heard so many land disputes and a good example is vidziani residents who also paved way for sugarcane plantation and were not compensated. This thing must be solved otherwise we will have people all over Kwale who have become squatters on their own land” she warned.
By Shaban Omar/Hussein Abdullahi