Tensions high at Chepchoina scheme after houses are torched

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The scheme has experienced perennial problems, including torching of houses
The scheme has experienced perennial problems, including torching of houses

Tension is high at the disputed Chepchoina settlement scheme along the West Pokot and Trans Nzoia Counties border after two houses were torched and properties destroyed at Robinson village by unknown people yesterday night. One of the houses razed down belongs to the former Sigor Member of Parliament, Wilson Litole .

The scheme has had its fair share of problems due to squatters at the scheme being unlawfully evicted from the land that they’ve owned for over twenty years every planting season.

Many families have been displaced and they’ve been forced to seek refuge in Uganda because of fear. Other affected families sleeping outside in bushes are in urgent need of food aid, shelter and drugs.

A snap survey done in the scheme showed that tractors are tilling the land manned by security officers.

Tractors were seen tilling the land
Tractors were seen tilling the land

The families accused the government of bringing tycoons and brokers who do not stay in the area to take the land. They urged the government to address the long standing dispute, wondering why it was taking too long to resolve the matter.

Previously after another tense incident, they had claimed they were allocated five acres of land each at the scheme under Agricultural Development Co-operation (ADC) in 1994 and 1997 by former President Daniel Arap Moi but they are being frustrated by the government which is turning against them by giving the land to other people.

Mr. Richard Mwareng who is a brother to the former Sigor MP the late Wilson Litole said that his brother bought the land from ADC and was also given by DC Rotich and Mr. Ngeywo, and no one has ever claimed ownership of the land. “We don’t know who came to burn houses and what motive he had,” said Mwareng.

One of the squatters Alfred Wafula who is a worker at the former Sigor MP’s Robinson farm claimed that some unknown squatters were being rigged in by government officials who are expected to protect them.

Residents accused the government of bringing tycoons, brokers to displace them
Residents accused the government of bringing tycoons, brokers to displace them

“We are sleeping in the cold in the bush after every house was burnt and my children escaped death narrowly. I’ve not reported to the police as we are always harassed,” said Wafula, “We wonder why we are being evicted from the land we’ve occupied for long.We want proper investigations done concerning this problem.”

The residents faulted a move by some government officials from Endebbes for allegedly fueling animosity among residents.

They said the government was using the recent allotment letters and leaving out those who were given first. “Moi gave us the allotment letters and we wonder why the government is turning against us. We are Kenyans and we should not be punished,” said Ann Edung, a resident.

However Endebbes Deputy County commissioner Peter Maina dismissed the claims saying there are two court orders of status quo and the second order cautioned residents from meddling in the land, erecting structures or cultivating.