Uncertainty at the troubled Chepchoina scheme after evictions

People evicting to a different locality

Uncertainty is still at the disputed  Chepchoina settlement scheme along the West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia Counties border after houses were destroyed by security officers and residents evicted from what they claim are their lands. The scheme has been having many problems with squatters as the scheme unlawfully evicted them from their lands that they have owned for over twenty years every planting season.   

This comes after a Kapenguria member of parliament was on  Sunday arrested while visiting families evicted from the controversial settlement scheme along West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia county.

More than  700  persons have been affected and their homes destroyed. They camped at the Katikomor Trading Centre and Peace Border School. Some of the residents who have become squatters are now camping at the Katikomor area in West Pokot county while others have started fleeing to the neighboring country Uganda to seek refuge.

They 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’s shortchanging and turning against them by giving the land to other people.

 Kapenguria Mp Samuel Moroto was on Sunday arrested after visiting families evicted from the settlement scheme and on Monday he appeared at Kitale law courts charged with destruction of property belonging to ADC Suam orchard worth 7 million back in 2017.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and county commissioner Apollo Okello together with the county’s top security team who visited the 700 affected families, assessed the situation and held a security meeting with the affected families at Katikomor on Tuesday. They urged the displaced families to restrain from retaliation and observe peace as the government looks for an amicable way of solving the land dispute within the shortest time possible.

Lonyangapuo who donated mosquito nets, mats, bags of sugar and bars of soap urged those with genuine allotment letters to present them to the government.

“Land issues in Chepchoina, have been a thorny issue since 1994 when the government allocated parcels of ADC farms to the landless members from Luhya, Turkana and Pokot communities and escalated during planting season by cartels with fake allotment letter,” said Lonyangapuo.

 Residents were evicted from  Kamten ,Kaboto,Kambi Mawe ,Naminit ,Naoyapong,Milimani Cherangani ,Sirisia  Kamtel and Katikomor and Kaporet. Other affected families sleeping outside in bushes are in urgent need of food aid, shelter and drugs.

The governor called on the national government to address this perennial land issue by identifying genuine allottees and root out cartels in order to bring lasting peace in the area. 

“The evictions were done in an inhumane way, we understand the pain and a solution should be found within the shortest time possible. There  are some suspects who are land brokers and are the source of all these problems.” He said.

He added that such people should be arrested and put behind bars since they have resulted into tribal conflict among the settlers at the scheme for the last 20 years.

He advised the locals to reduce the high tempers and stop giving the government a three-day ultimatum to end the stalemate.

“Stop taking law into your hands, both county governments are working together to end the wrangles, we should avoid tribalism since everyone in Kenya is entitled to settle anywhere.” He noted.

Speaking in Kitale the leaders led by West County assembly Speaker Catherine Mukenyang and former Women Rep Regina Nyeris called on the National Land Commission and ministry of interior to conclusively solve the land dispute at Chepchoina settlement scheme along phase two. The leaders accused government officials of colluding with tycoons to deny residents their rights by invading into their farms without valid documentation.

The officers from Robison GSU camp in Chepchoina , Endebess sub-county in Trans Nzoia county were part of officers who have been overseeing eviction of residents in the area. Endebess sub-county DCI commander Peter Ochieng confirmed the incident saying investigations into the matter has commenced.