Mombasa road was blocked for one hour on Thursday by property owners who are demanding compensation for land by dual carriageway.
The more than 300 people whose property was affected by the construction of the second Athi River/Machakos dual carriageway turn-off road project have waited for compensation for more than two years.
The demonstrators in Athi River moved to the road after a brief meeting with their leaders and completely blocked it with stone boulders and lit tyres on top of the stones.
A few traffic police officers manning the section of the road nearby attempted to convince the demonstrators to move out of the road but were overpowered and chased away.
Their leaders claimed they were demonstrating “peacefully” against Kenya National Highways Authority for their “continued” frustration in delaying the processing of the money.
The demo blocked the section of the road and caused a major traffic jam for hours. Vehicles snaked for almost five kilometres in each direction.
When Athi River police sent three trucks of riot officers, the demonstrators had already left and promised to make another impromptu disruption “soon until KeNHA understands their work”.
Leaders of the project affected persons in Athi River in another meeting on Wednesday said the National Land Commission did a requisite assessment of their property in 2017 and published the same in Kenya Gazette Notice numbers; 9536 of September 29, and 11424 of November 17, 2017.
The group calling itself Gimu project affected people led by their chairman, Daniel Mageto, explained that his members accepted the offer given by NLC after the assessment which amounted to slightly more than Sh1.5 billion but the same has not been settled by the KeNHA.
“Unfortunately, there have not been payments made to the affected persons of Gimu, despite several meetings between us, NLC and KenHA to deliberate on our payments,” said Mageto.
In a letter dated January 11, this year, addressed to chairman of NLC and Kenha Director General, and copied to CS Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and CS Ministry of Transport (all received on the same day), the group claimed NLC indicated they would be paid their dues two weeks from June 29, 2018.
The letter cited KenHA representative, Eng. Paul Omondi on the said sate as having confirmed that the money was to be transferred to NLC account to compensate them in two week’s weeks’ time.
When we attempted to call Omondi on his cellphone to provide more light on the plight of the Athi River landowners and business community, it kept saying “he is unreachable.”
At the same time, the letter indicated that Omondi instructed those having property like permanent buildings on the section of the road that the second carriageway would pass were told to demolish them.
The area the of affected cover close to 1.5 km and the those seeking compensation is said to have agreed that the project that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta will not continue until residents of Gimu have been fully compensated.
KenHA spokesman, Charles Njogu, confirmed that some 291 people whose property had been captured on KenHA’s digital maps would be paid along other 117, who were not captured on digital maps.
“The problem is our cash uptake from the Treasury. As you know, the Treasury release funds for particular projects and in the absence of the same, we have nothing but to wait,” said Njogu.
As regards the alleged stalled section of the project in Athi River along the proposed second carriageway, Njogu said; “That does not mean work has stalled. What is happening is that our contractor works on sections of the road that have not attracted issues of compensation.”
The residents claimed that some of those waiting to be compensated had earlier taken loans from banking institutions and used their land titles as collateral.
Richard Mutiso, a prominent land consultancy firm owner in Athi River, said many people have suffered a loss of business and cannot relocate elsewhere because they have not been compensated.
The NLC had promised to compensate landowners and those with business structures at rates between Sh100, 000 to Sh100 million to individuals which in total amounts to more than Sh1.5 billion.
Mageto appealed to the President to look into their issues the soonest.