Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mean Spirited Mining in Africa (1)

Farmers Now Evicted The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWSApril 14, 2007 Posted to the web April 14, 2007
By Juma Namlola

Nairobi The Government yesterday evicted seven farmers from Maumba village in Kwale District who had refused to make way for the titanium mining project. They received a rude awakening when a bulldozer descended on the village at about 3am and started demolishing their houses as a contingent of Administration Policemen kept guard. The exercise was supervised by acting Kwale District Commissioner Isaac Oseko.

A blind farmer was part of those affected as the bulldozer brought down the only structure in his homestead. Mr David Kimenye Maingi, who has four children in secondary school, said he did not have anywhere to go as he did not know any other relative. "I was born blind and this is the only place I have known. My children are in three different secondary schools and I depend on income from this farm to get school fees. It is difficult to say what will happen next," he said.

As Mr Maingi spoke, a heavy downpour destroyed some of his children's school books that were strewn in the compound.

Another farmer, Mrs Serah Nduku Mulei, 71, and her children were also busy gathering their belongings as she kept on looking at her late husband's grave. The mother of eight told the Nation the farm had been her home for 44 years and did not know how she could cope with life elsewhere.

Last November, Nairobi High Court ruled that the Government was justified in forcibly taking over land belonging to the eight farmers to allow for titanium mining. Mr Justice Joseph Nyamu said that, in the public interest, the Government had the right to seize the land belonging to the farmers, who have been unwilling to give it out for the Sh9 billion mining project. The judge said it was apparent the mining project was important for the country and the farmers who were unwilling to vacate citing inadequate compensation were not sincere since they had been part of the Government-brokered negotiations that resulted on an agreed compensation. Through a private valuer, Mr Gitonga Aritho, the farmers argued the compensation of Sh80,000 per acre did not consider the physical structures, social, psychological effects and disturbance caused by the decision.

On December 21, the farmers were summoned to Msambweni DO's office for an enquiry attended by two Government valuers. But the farmers instructed their lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria to get interim orders restraining the Government from evicting them, arguing the enquiry was flowed because it wasn't conducted by officials from the ministry of Lands.

Copyright © 2007 The Nation

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EarlyBird

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