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Ruto accused of diverting villagers’ water into his farm

Monday January 27 2020
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Deputy President William Ruto being interviewed at his Karen home on January 23, 2020. Taita Taveta County government is investigating a farm-linked to him for diverting water. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LUCY MKANYIKA

Deputy President William Ruto is an avid farmer.

He knows where opportunities lie and will go to great lengths to experiment with new ideas.

This enthusiasm has seen him buy chicken from Israel and chicken eggs from Khartoum, Sudan.

However, the drive to excel at farming has put him on a collision path with the Taita Taveta County government and villagers, who accuse him of diverting water to his ranch as they go thirsty.

Dr Ruto purchased a ranch in the county from former MP Basil Criticos and set out to rear livestock.

The farm, located in Mata Ward, 27 kilometres from Taveta town, is on the Taveta-Jipe Road, bordering the vast Criticos ranch and neighbouring Lake Jipe to the South.

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Those familiar with the DP's activities say he has started rearing cattle and goats. The farm's management has also planted pasture for the livestock as plans to venture into crop farming are underway.

POLICE DENIED ACCESS

After the purchase, he set out to fortify it by erecting an electric fence to ward off squatters, who are a perennial threat to ranch owners.

And in his bid to develop the estate, one thing happened that sparked off a protest and is now the subject of a bitter dispute in court.

The county government claims that Dr Ruto has diverted the main water pipeline that serves the location to his farm.

It moved to the Taveta Law Courts seeking orders allowing its officials and police officers to access the farm, saying residents depend on the water for both domestic use and irrigation.

Sources told Nation that police are seeking to arrest the farm's managing director, Arie Dempers, for denying more than 300 households water, forcing them to trek in search of the commodity.

On Thursday last week, senior officials from the water department, police officers and residents were denied access to the farm by the manager.

WAYWARD MANAGER

Water executive Gasper Kabaka said efforts to engage the farm's management have been futile. Social amenities like schools and health facilities have been affected.

This is not the first time the MD has been on the wrong side of the law. Mr Dampers has been on the spot on several occasions for allegedly harassing locals.

Last year, he was arrested by police after he stormed a mosque armed with a rifle.

The South African national demanded that the worshippers cut short their prayers because he deemed it noise. He is facing charges for creating a disturbance.

When contacted, he said: "You should first visit the farm and see for yourself what is happening. I will give my comment then."

DP Ruto’s communication’s secretary David Mugonyi said he was not aware of any land the DP owns in the county.

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