Monday, January 16, 2012

Cement firm in land dispute

Cabinet minister Charity Ngilu has accused an Athi River based cement company of secretly and cheaply acquiring 44,000 acres in Kitui county. Ngilu said the company took advantage of the locals poverty and ignorance who signed their land away for almost nothing after being lied to that it’s value was little since it was not arable. "We are telling the company to pay the land owners more or we will not allow them to exploit the limestone," Ngilu who is Water and Irrigation minister said.
She added that Kitui county leaders had also agreed that no mineral will be exploited before the formation of county governments so as to ensure the locals benefit accordingly. The Kitui central legislator said they had also agreed that those exploiting the minerals should put up plants in the area as opposed to transporting the raw materials to factories elsewhere.
Vast deposits of limestone, coal and iron ore have been discovered in Kitui County and there is a mad rush by local companies and multi nationals to secure land concessions in the drought stricken county. Ngilu said that it was unfortunate that a section of ukambani leaders are working with those wanting to exploit minerals in Kitui to buy land as cheap as possible and ensure that the land owners don’t benefit from the mineral exploitation.
Waving an aerial map showing the 44,000 acres acquired, Ngilu said that Kitui leaders had also demanded a fifty-fifty percentage share of the profits. She was speaking at Mutomo in Kitui south where she addressed a public rally with Mutitu MP Kiema Kilonzo who is also going for the Kitui governor seat. Ngilu also lamented over increased insecurity in Kitui County where bandits have raided villages in Mwingi killing people and stealing cattle.

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