Air services were paralyzed at Kabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay County after more than 100 land owners staged a
peaceful demonstration demanding compensation for their land.
There was drama at the airstrip on Monday when the protesters who had gathered at the scene stopped all the operations.
They accused the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) of refusing to compensate them for the land used in construction of the airstrip more than two years ago.
The protesters halted air services at the airstrip for some time. An aircraft belonging to the Fly 540 that was expected to land from Nairobi at 7.25am delayed for more than one hour.
It arrived at about 8.30am and took only five minutes to take off instead of the usual 30 minutes.
Passengers were unhappy with the delay.
“The delay has affected us negatively hence KAA should address the grievances of these people,” said businessman, William Omburo who was travelling to Nairobi.
The protestors led by the Kabunde Land Owners Association chairman, Joseph Muga, Spokesperson Charles Okumu and area MCA, Julius Nyambok said the KAA had declined to compensate 120 people whose pieces of land was used for constructing the airstrip.
Muga said they had resorted to demonstrations after several meetings with KAA on the issue bore no fruits.
“This matter started in 2016 and we have held many meetings with the KAA to compensate us but we only got false promises,” Muga said.
He further expressed concern that KAA had detained 25 title deeds from the residents despite the situation.
“KAA went ahead, took title deeds from 25 land owners and detained them in Nairobi to date. This is a joke,” Muga added.
Okumu said they had given KAA an ultimatum of one week to address the matter. He told the KAA to return the title deeds and surrender the land. “We are going to court after one week if KAA fails to return the title deeds and surrender the land because it doesn’t want to compensate us,” He added.
Meanwhile, the MCA argued that there was no reason why KAA could take possession of the residents’ land and detain their title deeds without compensation.
“Land owners can neither use their title deeds as loan collateral nor for any economic gain because KAA is undertaking its project on the land,” Nyambok said.
He promised to rally the residents and block air services at the airstrip if KAA fails to address the land owners’
“This is a good project but we cannot allow KAA to frustrate people over their land,” he added.
However, KAA Manager in charge of the airstrip, Wycliffe Kadoya admitted the compensation issue, saying his bosses were handling it from the headquarters in Nairobi.
“I plead with the protestors to cool down and give me time to talk to our bosses so that they get feedback in two weeks,” Kadoya pleaded.
But the land owners objected to his appeal and continued with the peaceful demo for more than five hours.
By Dan Oduor/Davis Langat