Ex-MP Criticos denies grabbing Taveta locals land

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos. He has dismissed reports that he grabbed Salaita Hill, which he fenced off last year. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OCHARO

Conflict is brewing between former Taveta MP Basil Criticos and more than 2,000 residents over a boundary dispute.

Mr Criticos is planning to fence his 5,000 acres of land that includes a sisal plantation and the Grogan’s Castle Hotel.

But the local residents neighbouring the farm have opposed fencing of the land, arguing that the former lawmaker has encroached on their farms.

The residents, through human rights activist Benjamin Kaleu, have written to security agencies and area MP Naomi Shaban to halt the planned fencing until the dispute is finalised by government surveyors.

The residents say that the former MP has earmarked part of their land in Grogan and Rekeke villages for fencing.

“He has started putting up fence posts in our plots,” Mr Kaleu said.

The activist said the MP has stretched his border several metres beyond the original boundary shown in the official established boundary letter dated March 13, 1985.

“He should start boundary straightening from Cess point through Ngoji Hill, not vice versa. We risk losing a huge chunk of our lands if no action is taken to stop this discrimination,” he said  

The dispute has hindered the erection of the fence, exposing the sisal plantation to destruction by livestock.

In addition, the locals also claim that fencing the land will block the Keshia kwa Mysoka Road, that was constructed by the county government in 2016 and links to residential homes and government facilities

But Mr Criticos dismissed the claims, accusing the residents of encroaching into his land.

“The survey was done by government surveyors. It was found that the area under dispute falls on my side, so it is wrong for people to call me a land grabber when they are the ones who have actually encroached on my land,” he said

Mr Criticos said that the residents trespassed on his land and are currently farming it.

“Erection of the fence will proceed whether they like it or not. Let them go to court and obtain orders stopping me from fencing my plot,” he said.

A Ministry of Lands official based in the sub-county office said he could comment over the matter.