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Speed up our resettlement, Kakuzi squatters plead        

Kakuzi squatters have called on the government to speed up resettling them on a piece of land that the food processing company ceded years ago, so as to get them out of the untold suffering that they have gone through in the hands of the company.

The over 4,000 squatters said the continued dragging of the process has invited more fake squatters lining up and demanding a share of the land.

They said, as the process drags, their suffering continues to mount, and the hope of one day owning land diminishes each passing day.

David Musau (89), who lives in a wooden shack, covered with polythene papers and roofed using rust iron sheets, wishes the survey and subdivisions of the land would be fast-tracked so as to open a new chapter of his life.

He has gone through hell during this rainy season as his leaking roof cannot give him rest at night.

Musau has to squeeze himself in one of the corners of his almost falling house where he has placed his bed, and hope the rains subside.

“At night, we undergo incurable agony when the rains pound. We fear our shanties may be carried away by the rains. We endured the rain all night. We can’t repair our houses because once the guards catch you, they severely punish,” he said.

Esther Kalekye, now over 100 years old, suffers the same fate.  Her greatest fear is where she would be buried.

The company, they said, cannot allow burials in the land. Residents however conduct night burials out of fear.

“I know my time is almost up. However, my fear is will I be thrown in the bush after death?” she posed.

Esther Njeri and Joseph Muriuki survive on burning charcoal whose logs they steal from Kakuzi forest. If only the company’s watchmen knew, they say, the punishment would be severe.

These are among the tales that the squatters told government officials who had visited the area, to explain to the residents on the progress of the resettlement exercise.

Their chairman Murigi Njogu, during a meeting attended by state officials assured them that the government was in the process of allocating them land.

He however said the land may not be enough for every squatter as the number has increased from 400 to the current 4,000 over the years.

“The surveying of the land that Kakuzi ceded is ongoing. However, it is slow and residents are slowly giving up,” Murigi said.

He at the same time called on the company to consider ceding some of its unused land to settle the 4,000 squatters who have been doubling each year.

“Kakuzi should borrow a leaf from the nearby Fruit Processing Multinational Delmonte (K) LTD that has ceded land to Kiambu and Murang’a residents. It has huge tracks of unused land. That way, more squatters will be resettled,” he added.

By Muoki Charles

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