MCAs want firms to give up 1,000 acres for ur­ban projects

‘Even though th­ese farms have cre­ated em­ploy­ment for thou­sands of res­i­dents, they have oc­cu­pied prime land and hin­dered devel­op­ment,’ says county of­fi­cial

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Central - ALICE WAITHERA @Alice­wangechi

Mu­rang’a MCAs have asked the Na­tional Land Com­mis­sion not to re­new leases for com­pa­nies that own large tracts of land un­til they agree to give up part of it for devel­op­ment.

The MCAs have passed a mo­tion to en­sure the landown­ers cede at least 1,000 acres to be used for es­tab­lish­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion pro­grammes.

In a mo­tion tabled by Lands and Phys­i­cal Plan­ning com­mit­tee chair­man Dun­can Nju­guna on Wed­nes­day, the MCAs also sought to com­pel the county gov­ern­ment to put in place devel­op­ment pro­grammes that will be un­der­taken on the land.

He said the land will be used to es­tab­lish a city that will pro­vide em­ploy­ment to more than 24,000 youths.

Nju­guna said the city will have in­dus­tries, a rail­way sta­tion, a com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­tre and higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

The MCAs passed the mo­tion as some multi­na­tional com­pa­nies that have huge tracts of land seek to have their leases re­newed.

Del Monte’s land lease is set to ex­pire in 2018, while Kakuzi and other cof­fee and flower farms will have their leas- es ex­pire in a few years. “Even though th­ese farms have cre­ated em­ploy­ment for thou­sands of res­i­dents, they have oc­cu­pied prime land and hin­dered devel­op­ment. This forces res­i­dents to travel long dis­tances to ac­cess so­cial ameni­ties,” Nju­guna told the as­sem­bly.

He said the in­dus­tries that will be set up will im­prove the county’s econ­omy.

Last month, a group of Kan­dara res­i­dents pe­ti­tioned the as­sem­bly to have multi­na­tional fruit-pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies in the area give back 6,000 acres to the com­mu­nity for devel­op­ment.

The mem­bers of the Kan­dara Ini­tia­tive Cau­cus said the com­pa­nies have been of lit­tle ben­e­fit to the com­mu­nity, de­spite be­ing in ex­is­tence for many decades.

Mu­goiri MCA Sam­son Kago said the county does not have suf­fi­cient land for in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion.

He said the county loses in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, as it lacks land to al­lo­cate in­vestors who want to set up in­dus­tries.

“Th­ese leases are ex­pir­ing in the next few years and as law­mak­ers, we need to set the con­di­tions for their re­newal to en­sure the lives of res­i­dents im­prove,” Kago said.

Lead­ers from the county led by Gov­er­nor Mwangi Wairia and Se­na­tor Kembi Gi­tura have also urged the com­pa­nies to cede part of the land for devel­op­ment.

/ FILE

Mu­rang’a MCAs out­side the county cham­bers. They have passed a mo­tion to en­sure some landown­ers cede at least 1,000 acres for ur­ban­i­sa­tion pro­grammes

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