OMUTHIYA -The Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga has granted an audience with distressed community members of Omuthiya and surrounding villages who claim to have been robbed and unfairly compensated by the town council when they ceded their land to pave way for township development.
For years, the affected parties, through a local committee, have been calling upon town council to review the compensation process amid claims of bias in issuing free plots as compensation as well as unfair monetary reimbursements.
Council has always maintained that it did everything fairly.
Community leader and activist Moses Amukoto informed New Era that he has received a letter from town council informing them of the minister’s promise to meet listen and address their complaints.
“This is good news to us as affected communities,” he said.
“For years we have been calling for the minister’s intervention to rescue us. We are therefore happy that our cries will be heard by the highest authority, although the letter did not indicate when exactly,” stressed Amukoto, adding that the date of the meeting would be announced in due course.
In an interview last year, the town’s CEO Samuel Mbango was emphatic in saying the process has been done according to the National Land Compensation Policy, saying they were hooligans among the community that has been stirring trouble.
“The policy states that the person has an option to choose either to get two plots but no money, while the second option offers one to be paid in full which is in monetary for the value of the homestead. The only persons without an option are those that are in industrial or business area and are paid money in full. In this case most of those that bring up the issue are the ones who received money and they are under the impression that they do qualify for the plots again, which is not the case,” explained Mbango at the time.
He further on went to say, “those that qualify have been informed and that their names are already on the approved list by council and from the minister. Some opted not to come collect their letters from council, while some never returned them after they signed the documents so that their details could be captured.”
“From our side we have settled the issues of compensation. The problematic ones are those that did not qualify, and I think there is someone who is instigating them through their committees. The fact they see others receiving plots does not mean they also qualify,” he countered.
Meanwhile, Part B on compensation in money and erven of the 2008 compensation policy guideline which was used in this case, indicates that a communal landholder whose land is incorporated into a townland jurisdiction or has been taken for other public sector development purposes, has a choice to own a residential erf in the proclaimed town or subject to availability, be given an alternative land similar to the size which was taken away.
Despite these explanations, the community has been unwavering and insisted that the process was not fair enough thus necessitating the need to meet with the minister.
“In our letter to council, we requested an audience with the minister. We raised issues such as lack of awareness which led to ill consented decision by some members who only later realised that they were underpaid. Another issue was measurements of land without the owner’s knowledge and presence. We are further disputing the compensation policy being used, and requested for the latest policy as the previous has lower rates,” highlighted Amukoto on some of their demands.