Internally Displaced persons [IDPS] camping along the road at Katikomor in West Pokot county are afraid of what the future has for them after being evicted by the government from the Chepchoina land settlement scheme in Trans-nzoia County.
More than 700 families are living in agony for lacking basic human needs after they were evicted from the land they claim is there on 6th March 2021.
The affected families are sleeping outside in bushes especially children who are malnourished and elders suffering are in urgent need of food aid, shelter, and drugs.
The IDPs who yesterday spoke to the press blamed the Rift valley Regional commissioner George Natembeya who visited the area last two weeks for abandoning them, being biased and taking sides, are now calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to their rescue.
The squatters from the Pokot, Turkana and Luhya communities 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 shortchanging and turning against them by giving the land to other people.
Led by Mr. Geoffrey Pyego they faulted Mr. Natembeya for not listening to grievances of the genuine squatters affected.
“The RC came but he decided to take side with conmen, We have no peace, There are two allotment letters of settlement and ADC. Natembeya didn’t visit this camp”, he said.
Mr. Reuben Akutani who was the Agricultural Development Cooperation [ADC] employee noted that a total of 625 were given land by former President Daniel Arap Moi.
“We cleared the bushes around. The land now belongs to the security team and government officers who have been colluding with tycoons. We are not sloughing, our kids will not go to school because we have no school fees,’ said Akutani.
Mama Geoffrey, a resident of the Kaboto area noted they were not given any notice for eviction and hence property and food were destroyed.
“We have been told by the West Pokot security team to go back to our farms but we fear because those who went back were attacked,” she said.
She cited that government officials are engaged in corruption feuds hence should be investigated for evicting them from their lands that they have owned for over 25 years.
“We wonder why we are being evicted in the land that we have stayed for long. This is wrong for government officers who are making our life hard. We want proper investigations done concerning this problem. We have suffered and been tortured for a long time,” she said.
She accused the police of using excessive force to force them out of their rightfully acquired parcels of land and called for their transfer.
“We are sleeping in the cold in the bush. We were attacked by police early in the morning and destroyed our property,” she said.
She complained of spending nights in the cold as they feared for their security saying the threats were from very influential government officers.
She said the government was using the recent allotment letters and leaving out those who were given at first.
A human rights activist Mr. Dennis Ruto Kapchok who visited affected families called on the Government to move with speed and solve the Chepchoina land dispute.
“The Kenya Red Cross and High commission for refugees should come to the aid of these people because there is a lot of indignities. Children are malnourished,” he said.
He called on the Government to relocate the IDPs and give them tents.
RC Natembeya who visited the area said that the Government has lost 1700 acres of the Agricultural Development cooperation [ADC] land at the controversial Chepchoina settlement scheme in Trans-nzoia County.
“The Agricultural Development Cooperation[ ADC] had 17000 acres of land in Trans-nzoia County hence 15,000 were given out to needy people where beneficiaries were given two and a half acres each,” he said.
He instructed the area County commissioner to constitute another land committee that will comprise all communities living in the area.
“We shall do an audit and make sure the land is back to the government. We are going to clean it up and it will be a painful exercise in Chepchoina. We need transparency,’ said Natembeya.
Mr. Natembyeya noted that the government has begun an exercise to determine genuine landowners on a disputed 15,000-acre settlement scheme that lies on the border of Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties.
The exercise, which was launched by Mr. Natembeya, entails the verification of land documents by residents to flash out encroachers.
“There will be a police presence at the settlement scheme to oversee an eviction exercise that will be initiated once the verification exercise is completed,” he said.
Natembeya assured squatters in the area that no one will lose his or her shamba warning officers from the ministry of Land over engaging in corruption and other malpractices.