MP names Solio Ranch grabbers

An MP from Central on Monday disclosed names of beneficiaries of the controversial Solio Ranch from his constituency.

Monday July 27 2009

By NATION Reporters

An MP from Central on Monday disclosed names of beneficiaries of the controversial Solio Ranch from his constituency. Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando further challenged his counterparts from Nyeri region to follow suit.

Mr Kabando, who is a also an assistant minister for Sports, said his intention was to clear his name from accusations that all MPs in the greater Nyeri and their supporters are among beneficiaries of the land donated by government to settle squatters.

The government bought the land following instructions from First Lady Lucy Kibaki. She had been touched by the plight of squatters who had for years been residing on a roadside in Kagochi area of Nyeri East District.

The squatters had been evicted from Mt Kenya forest following a government directive to clear settlers from all gazetted forests in the country.

Since the squatters had no where to go, having settled in the forest during the colonial rule, they had to put up temporary structures on the roadside.

The First Lady, upon being moved by their plight while on a visit, instructed Central Provincial Commissioner Jaspher Rugut to look for land to settle all squatters evicted from gazetted forests within Nyeri District.

However, it has now emerged that the resettlement exercise was riddled with corruption, with squatters missing out from the vast ranch to undeserving people, among them powerful politicians and their supporters as well as influential civil servants.

The landless

The five MPs in the larger Nyeri district were required to present names of landless people in their constituencies.

Apart from Mr Kabando, other MPs include Gender minister Esther Murugi (Nyeri Town), Ephraim Maina (Mathira), Francis Nyammo (Tetu) and Nemysius Warugongo (Kieni). They could not be reached for comment.

Our sister publication Sunday Nation published a comprehensive story on the controversy surrounding the whole allocation of the land at Solio ranch.

Besides leaving out some landless people, the story disclosed that taxpayers lost more than Sh500 million in the settlement programme as the land was overvalued.