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Govt moves to address Ng’ati farm tussle

The government has committed to resolving the decades-long land tussle pitting members of the Ng’ati Farmers’ Cooperative Society against the Maasai regarding a vast 16,000-acre farm in Maiella, Naivasha.

Over 500 members of the society purchased the 16,708 acres from an Italian settler in 1964, but the allocation of the huge land parcel and subdivision to individual members has been protracted for years due to infighting within the members and the local Maasai community.

The infighting led to a court battle in which the court of appeal sitting in Nairobi ruled in 2004 that the Kikuyu community got 12,131 acres while the Maasai got an allocation of 4,207 acres through adverse possession out of the total 16,708 acres.

However, the court ruling led to further mistrust between the Kikuyu members of the society, who have since called for fresh subdivision of the land, while all the former directors were kicked out for their underhand deals and unfair allocation of the land to nonmembers.

Consequently, the sale of over 3,000 acres to Kenya Generating Company Limited (KenGen) for the purpose of geothermal drilling in 2013 by former directors for Sh505 million widened the wedge among members after allegations and accusations of misappropriation of funds emerged, leading to an active criminal court case at Naivasha Law Court.

Now, a fifteen-member committee has been formed to help resolve the thorny issues regarding allocation, the sale of part of the land to KenGen, and the review of the boundary dividing Ng’ati Vast Farm and Narok County.

According to Naivasha MP Jane Kihara, the committee, which has already met with Cabinet Secretary for Lands Zack Njeru, will move to ensure the issues raised are harmoniously addressed to calm the tensions in the area.

Kihara, who was speaking to society members in the Maiella area, said the CS will visit the area with a view to resolving the issue of boundaries, illegal allocation to nonmembers, sale of part of the land to KenGen, and calls for fresh subdivision of the vast land.

The legislator called out local leaders and the infighting among individual members for the prolonged ownership battle of the land, noting that the government will address the issues by following the law while calling for partnership within the community.

According to Naivasha sub-county commissioner Kisilu Mutua, the government will deploy its surveyors to camp in the area to review the boundary issues and the decades-long allocation quagmire in close collaboration with local leaders.

Mutua said that the government administration officers in the area have been threatened before over the thorny land issue while noting increased hatred, infighting, and mistrust among society members, which have played down the implementation of solution-based interventions.

The decades-long ownership battle also led the former Nakuru County Administration to form an ad-hoc committee to look into the various issues, among which was the recommendation of fresh subdivision of sections of protected land.

Speaking to the press, Munyinga Kariuki, a local, welcomed the renewed move to address the land question, noting that a fair process will deliver justice to the 581 initial families who remain optimistic to date.

By Erastus Gichohi

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