Panic has gripped a section of the residents of Hola town in Tana River County after the National Irrigation Board (NIB) started repossessing its grabbed land.
The Hola Irrigation Scheme Farmers Advisory Committee led by Tana River Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Michael Kioni and Hola Irrigation Scheme Manager, James Kirimi on Thursday started securing the land that forms part of Hola Town.
Members of the committee and NIB officials marked a number of buildings with the inscription ‘X NIB’ and erected sign posts on empty plots with the written note ‘National Irrigation Board. Trespassers Keep Off’.
Some of the marked buildings had been completed and occupied by tenants while others were still under construction.
The buildings were marked as tenants and construction workers looked on without a word. The owners of the buildings were not present, hence there was no resistance.
Kioni said the scheme’s farmers’ advisory committee had moved in to secure the land, which he said had been unlawfully allocated to private developers without the consent of NIB.
“Some illegal land committees were responsible for the allocation of public land in the town, and this is the land we are repossessing,” he said.
He said despite being issued with notices to stop construction, those illegally allocated land defiantly proceeded to build expensive houses on the land “and now they will have to face the consequences of their actions.”
The Hola Scheme Manager said a lot of NIB land had been grabbed and allocated to local private developers and NIB was out to repossess all of it.
“We expect that the purported owners of the property we have marked will come to claim it from us. If this does not happen, we shall commence the process of recovering the same without further reference to them,” he said.
Some of the houses marked for demolition are said to belong to Members of County Assembly, although this could not be immediately verified.
A large portion of the scheme’s land was taken over during the first years of devolution by residents who started constructing houses in anticipation for an increased number of tenants following the deployment of county government staff.
The NIB and the national government administration tried in vain to stop the grabbers from taking over the land since the residents seemed to have the blessings of Governor Hussein Dado at the time.
Dado at some point wrote to the NIB asking it to hive off part of the scheme’s land to pave way for the expansion of Hola Town, which hosts the county headquarters, but the agency reportedly informed the governor that they were not allowed to do so.
Since the current governor, Major (Rtd) Dhadho Gaddae Godhana took over, his focus has been on the relocation of the county government offices to Dayate area in Wayu ward as a way of expanding Hola Town and upgrading it to municipality status.
Meanwhile, the governor has also issued an order to people who have constructed buildings next to the Hola County Referral Hospital to demolish them, saying the land belonged to the county government.
Those affected if the order takes effect include a former County Assembly Speaker, Dr. Nasir Abdi Nuh and a number of MCAs.
By Emmanuel Masha