October 27 2010
More than 400 families are up in arms after a government agency ordered them to move out of a 20-acre land parcel in Tana Delta District.
The order violates a compromise deal they struck at the weekend with the management of the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (Tarda), according to their spokesman, Mr Dahir Bile.
Mr Bile also accused area DC Elias Gitonga Kithaura of backing the scheme to kick them out of the land.
“Last Saturday, we agreed that we shall stay on until our children, who are sitting their Form Four and Standard Eight national exams, complete their tests,” the spokesman told the Nation on Wednesday.
He said a follow-up meeting was to be held this week to form a team to speed up the relocation of the families.
The last attempt to evict the group was bloody with dozens of people, including police officers sustaining serious injuries.
Mr Bile asked Mr Kithaura to keep off the issue and allow villagers and Tarda to settle the issue amicably.
“Why is he (the DC) now ordering Tarda to evict people forcefully when there is an agreement in place?” asked Mr Bile, who is also a member of the district peace committee.
According to him, the agency’s tractors have started ploughing the land in readiness for the next planting season.
But in a quick rejoinder, the DC asked the families to stop squatting on private land and instead return to their original homes in nearby Danisa village.
Mr Kithaura said the families were compensated last year and had agreed to move out to pave the way for the expansion of the irrigation scheme. In the last financial year, the government allocated funds to Tarda for maize farming under the Economic Stimulus Package.
“The chief has a list of those who were compensated. I have been asked by Tarda to provide security so that the tractors can plough the farms. The families had threatened to raze the tractors,” said Mr Kithaura.
He also told the Nation that he was not aware of a compromise deal between the squatters and Tarda.
However, Tarda could not be reached for comment. The managing director, Mr Francis Agoya, was said to be in a meeting with his chief officers.