More than 200 Kirinyaga residents want the Court of Appeal to stop construction of Thiba dam, until they are paid Sh2.3 billion that the government still owes them for compulsory acquisition of their land used for the project.
The 249 residents, together with a group named Rukenya Dam Association, said they stand to suffer irreparable loss of their 560 acres of land as the government has moved in to start work on the Sh20 billion dam.
The government has only released Sh1.9 billion, with no signs that the balance of Sh2.3 billion would be paid soon, they argued.
Through lawyer Wambugu Kariuki, the residents said the government has failed to settle the full compensation even after Justice Boaz Olao of the Environment and Lands Court in Kerugoya gave the order on March 31, 2017.
“Unless an order of injunction is granted, the applicants stand to suffer irreparably because they have not been fully and promptly compensated as the High Court ordered in its judgement,” said the lawyer in the five-page application.
He was addressing judges Patrick Kiage, Fatuma Sichale and Sankale Ole Kantai sitting at the Court of Appeal in Nyeri Monday.
Mr Kariuki explained that the Lands Court had directed the National Land Commission (NLC) and the National Irrigation Board (NIB) to settle the compensation first before allowing the project to take off.
“At what stage will they be compensated considering that their land was acquired and the construction started? The project affects 577 households and should not be allowed to continue because the applicants stand to lose both their property and the compensation,” said Mr Kariuki.
The dam, which was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year is one of the flagship projects of the Vision 2030 focusing on creation of food security by doubling rice production at Mwea Irrigation and Settlement Scheme.
He further faulted the Lands Court judge for dismissing their petition in which they wanted a review of the land valuation.
Mr Kariuki want the court to find that the residents’ constitutional rights were violated and that NLC abdicated its constitutional and statutory duty on private land acquisition as enshrined in the constitution.
The Court of Appeal directed the lawyer to serve the respondents - Attorney General, National Irrigation Board, NLC – with copies of the injunction application and the records of appeal within seven days.
Mr Kariuki was also asked to pick hearing dates for the case at the Court of Appeal Registry.