Communities living next to the land owned by listed plantation firm Kakuzi Ltd
in Murang’a have asked Kenya’s land ministry not to renew the leases to the parcels land owned by the firm.
Swaleh Githinji who is the spokesperson for the communities cited the firm’s violation of the rights of the local residents as the ground why the leases should not be renewed.
“Kakuzi continues to block water sources to the community by pumping out water from rivers and streams going through their land into their dams.
He said the firm’s eucalyptus plantations had poisoned the streams.
“Because of the eucalyptus trees, water from the streams passing through the plantation is bitter and is not fit for domestic use,” said Githinji.
Githinji was speaking when he presented a memorandum on the communities’ grievances against the company to a task force appointed by Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to advise the ministry on how to handle land leases.
During the forum held at a Nairobi hotel, the operations of the Kenya National Land Commission (NLC) came under sharp focus after it emerged that it has failed to renew leases of the parcels of land owned by Kenya Power.
“The fact that Kenya Power has had to write to the commission several times over leases to its land is evidence that the commission is not doing its work,” said Kenya Land Alliance Odenda Lumumba.
Kenya Power through its Property Section Manager Jedian Muriuki said it had on several occasions written to the commission because some of the leases had expired.
“We own 500 pieces of land across the country. Leases for some of the pieces of land have expired. But our efforts to have the leases renewed has not bone fruits because the commission has not given us direction even after writing several enquiries,” said Muriuki.
It also emerged that neither the government nor the commission knows the number of leases that the state has issued on land.
“This task force has to work out a strategy that will help the government have a proper, up to date record of its land leases. The current situation is not tenable,” said Omwenga.
But Lumumba said the claim on data on leases was not true.
“I don’t think we should accept that claim that there is no information on old leases because we have seen transfer of land parcels that are under old leases,” said Lumumba.