County calls for probe into row over Ganze community ranch

Tuesday November 14 2017

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi addresses Export Processing Zones workers at Kikambala village in Kilifi County on July 23, 2017. Mr Kingi does not want a community ranch in Ganze to be sold. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KAZUNGU SAMUEL
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The Kilifi County Government has asked the National Land Commission to investigate how a 65,000-acre community ranch in Ganze was converted into private property.

Giriama Ranching Company Ltd, which is associated with the ranch, is seeking to sell the property to a Dubai-based firm, Al Maktoum, for Sh13 billion.

In a letter to NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri, dated November 8, Land county executive Charles Karisa says the regional government wants the commission not to support the extension of the lease for the property until the matter is resolved.

EVICTION
The impending sale of the land has been met with resistance from locals living on the land, who claim to have no information on the transaction by the company.

Last Friday, the residents demonstrated at Bamba trading centre, accusing local politicians of colluding with the ranch directors to sell the land they claim is their ancestral home.

Contacted, Mr Karisa confirmed having written the letter, expressing his fears that the sale could result in the eviction of thousands of residents.

“Our concern is that the planned transaction will disenfranchise in excess of 30,000 ranch settlers who use the land for their livelihoods and also their residence.

"In addition, it is a threat to community assets such as schools, hospitals, watering points and strategic networks,” he said.

BANK LOAN
This comes days after Governor Amason Kingi opposed the sale of the expansive ranch, which cuts through Ganze and Kaloleni constituencies.

In an interview last week, the county boss asked the Department of Land and Housing to make sure the property is not sold.

“One of the issues raised by the company that wants to sell the land is that it wants to pay a bank loan of Sh250 million after the ranch was used as security by another private firm to secure the money.

“Now, who is the beneficiary in this if it is not a complete rip-off of the community? We shall do everything to ensure that the land remains a community ranch,” the governor said.

TITLE DEED
However, one of the directors of the ranch, Mr Rajab Menza, said the sale of the property will go on as planned as it is a private entity and no one should interfere with their plans.

“The planned sale will not be stopped because we are a private company owned by members through shares. We have a loan we want to repay.

"That is why we are looking for a buyer. It is our business and there is nothing wrong with what we intend to do,” Mr Menza said.

Records show that Giriama Ranching Company was registered in 1968 to engage in ranching in Bamba.

In 1988, the firm received a title deed for a 45-year lease that expires in 2033.