Want a piece of IDP land? That’ll be $866 only

Monday December 28 2009

The government will spend Sh1.4 billion to buy land and another Sh432 million to compensate integrated IDPs s in Nyanza, Western and Central provinces. Photo/FILE

The government will spend Sh1.4 billion to buy land and another Sh432 million to compensate integrated IDPs s in Nyanza, Western and Central provinces. Photo/FILE 

By PHILIP NGUNJIRI

Corrupt officials at Kenya’s Rift Valley provincial land adjudication and resettlement office, working with rich crooks, are selling land bought by the government to resettle internally displaced people to the highest bidder, The EastAfrican can reveal.

With between Ksh65, 000 ($866) and Ksh90,000 ($1,200), and the right connection, one is legally acquiring a 2.2 hectares (five acres) piece of land within minutes.

But the price is rising daily as greedy people rush to acquire the “precious commodity” whose current market value ranges between Ksh150,000 ($2000) to Ksh200,000 ($2666), depending on the locality.

Haphazard and incoherent

This is coming at a time when the government is being accused by various organisations and foreign governments of executing a haphazard and incoherent resettlement programme.

Meanwhile, thousands of IDPs will continue to languish in various camps in the expansive Rift Valley Province this month.

More than 3,000 families, previously IDPs at Mawingo in Nyandarua and now settled on Gicheha farm (formerly associated with the Kenyatta family), about 25 kilometres, east of Nakuru town, have started to grumble.

They are accusing the government of taking too long to allocate them two acres of land as promised.

Many victims of the poll chaos pooled the Ksh10,000 ($133) paid to each family and bought a 60-acre farm.

The EastAfrican has seen documents that include an official government receipt of Ksh13,375 and an allotment letter of a 2.2 hectares of land in the expansive Gicheha farm in Rongai.

The allotment letter is on a government letterhead and is fully signed and stamped by the provincial land adjudication and resettlement officer. It is copied to the Nakuru district land registrar.

An official at the ministry of land — who did not want to be quoted since he is not authorised to speak to the media — could neither confirm nor deny the matter.

“Here is a situation where some greedy Kenyans are losing their money. I doubt ministry officials are involved,” he said.

The resettlement has been met with scepticisms by local people.

Rongai Member of Parliament Luka Kigen says the resettlement is a PNU ploy to boost the party’s numbers in Parliament after the 2012 elections.

About 30 elders from the area have met the Rift Valley provincial commissioner, Osman Warfa over the resettlement, complaining that the government favours IDPs and is doing very little for the 25,000 squatters in the area.

Mr Warfa said the government bought 8,232 acres to resettle IDPs in Nakuru, Molo and Ol Kalou.

He said his role as the provincial administrator is to provide logistics and ensure security of the displaced families.

Anyone who tries to interfere with the resettlement will be arrested, he warned.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, there are between 181,000 and 200,000 internally displaced people in Kenya.

This figure takes into account the government’s return programme that involved some 172,000 people during the post-election violence of December 2007.

They returned home in May 2008.

By its own admission, the government said in early June 2008 that it had no accurate figures of IDPs.

However, it is assumed that most of them are yet to return home and were either living in host communities or in “transit camps” set up by the government closer to where people were displaced from.