Four years after property owners along the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project in Taita Taveta received their compensation, some of them have blown the money, with little investment to their name.
Although many of the land owners received millions of shillings, some of them squandered the pay-out.
However, some used the cash to transform their lives.
Mr Ngavazi Muthungu from Birikani said the SGR line passing through his farm was a blessing.
From the Sh1. 4 million payment, he bought an alternative piece of land where he put up a residential building.
“It helped me boost my income. I now live comfortably with my family,” Mr Muthungu said.
He said he used part of the rent from tenants to convert his retail shop into a wholesale business.
However, he laments that he has not been fully compensated for his land.
He said the parcel of land which he bought earlier was said to belong to Kishamba B group ranch.
After petitioning the National Land Commission, the ranch owners were given 30 per cent share of the compensation funds.
“I did not buy land from the ranch. I bought it from the owner, so I am entitled to receive all the funds since the land is mine,” he said.
He said they have visited various government institutions for help but the problem is yet to be resolved.
A few kilometres from Muthungu’s wholesale shop is an unfinished storey building.
Its owner, Mr Hamisi Mwasema, said he could not finish its construction since the government undervalued his two-and-a-half-acre parcel of land.
He said he had planned to build a modern house and a commercial building, but couldn’t complete the project because he “only received Sh13 million from the government”.
However, sources said Mr Mwasema had squandered his money --- going on a spending spree and hopping from one bar to another.
He bought a new saloon car and a Mitsubishi FH lorry and blew most of the money in pubs entertaining friends.
“He moved into a hotel in Voi town and got himself a new wife. He neglected his family and became a spendthrift,” said one of his friends who sought anonymity.
Mr Mwasema is said to have never reported the windfall to his family, who he had abandoned.
Sources said Mr Mwasema’s salon car recently broke down after he was involved in an accident.
“Right now he has no money to repair the vehicle and finish the construction of the building which was meant to be a business premise,” he said.
Speaking to the Nation, Mwasema boasted having constructed a house for himself and his mother.
“My family is happy. At least, I now have a permanent house. The lorry helps me get some income to take care of my family,” he said.
He, however, insists the government needs to top up the compensation since the 2014 payment was ‘little’.
“We had given our quotation but surprisingly, we were compensated very little money for our land,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Mr Samuel Mwaengwa, said the government should train people who receive such windfalls.
“When people knew I had money, they started following me and I blindly bought them whatever they requested. Up to date, I cannot account for Sh500,000,” he said.
Mr Mwaengwa had received Sh2. 9 million.
The former mechanic was saved by his family who advised him to construct rental houses, which now earn him Sh30,000 per month.
He also owns a motorcycle spare parts shop. “Were it not for my family, I would have wasted all the money,” he said.