Over 6000 family in Bomet demand compensation of their land

Families in Bomet County want the government to intervene and have them compensated for their land by a foreign tea firm operating in the area.

The over 6,000 families claimed that their land was taken away by the tea firm in the late 1940s and 1950s by the then management of the tea estates.

The residents of Chepchabas village of Konoin constituency claimed that through the African Highlands Company of England, the James Finlay Tea Company displaced them from their farms to pave way for the tea plantations.

Speaking during a leaders meeting convened at Chepchabas Health Centre in Chepchabas ward the group lead by among others, Mzee Joseph Chumo, 76, said their concerns have been falling on the deaf ears of management of the tea company.

Chumo said the tea company carved more than 1,400 hectares of land during the colonial era and promised to compensate them but has not failed to do so.

He said the firm promised to sell each of the 214 families seven acre each in the earlier 1980s but this was reduced to less than one and for only very few members.

He said the white settlers, with the assistance of the then government evicted them from their farms, destroyed their property and took away their animals which were auctioned at sale yard in Kericho town.

Chumo asked President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto to urgently intervene and have the land returned to them or have them compensated to resettle their large families.

He lamented that they have informed their members of parliament on several occasions to intervene and find a solution for their concern but nothing was forthcoming.

An aspirant seeking the Konoin Parliamentary seat on Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) ticket, Mr. Cosmas Korir assured the families that if elected as the area MP, he will solve their land problems.

Another speaker during the occasion Mr. Joel Koros, claimed that the multi-national company had done nothing to the squatters even through corporate social responsibility.

He said the yearly aerial tea spray by the tea company posed an environmental hazard to their families as they and their animals were also sprayed on, causing the death of some animals.

The group members said the company sold 1500 acres to Kipsigis Highland land buying company instead of allocating the land to them.

They want the government to stop the construction of a tea processing plant on an 85 acre land by Kipsigis Highland land buying company without their consent.

The families of Chepchabas claimed that since independence, they have not accessed clean and piped drinking water; their children have been denied education and are discriminated against on job opportunities.

Source: Kenya News Agency