Residents of Mariki in Murang’a south are protesting the use of water from two dams for irrigation by some individuals.
The residents complained that draining the only two dams christened Mariki near Maragua town will reduce water for domestic and livestock use and force them to seek other sources far from the area.
They were speaking during a meeting convened by Maragua Assistant County Commissioner (ACC), Alex Mukindia.
Led by a James Kariuki, the residents petitioned the government to restrict the use of water from the two dams for irrigation purposes.
He accused some wealthy farmers of encroaching on wetlands near the dams who were allocated 50 acres by the defunct Murang’a county council in 1990s.
Kariuki said they have been protesting the allocation of the wetlands and riparian areas to 20 individuals in the last 10 years.
But one of the farmers, Kennedy Mbau, defended himself against the accusations, saying his parents bought the land from the defunct local authority.
I have a valid title deed and I have all the right to work in my farm without any interference by the neighbours, said Mbau.
In the past two years, the locals have demanded eviction of 20 land owners whom they claim obtained the land illegally from the defunct county council 20 year ago.
In his remarks, the assistant county commissioner warned the residents against participating in activities that may degenerate into violence.
Mukindia banned the use of water pumps to draw water for irrigation from the dams and ordered chiefs to arrest people who flout the order.
The government must do everything possible to protect and conserve the water catchment areas, said the sub county administrator.
Green Belt Movement officials who attended the meeting, supported the residents, saying the wetlands should be protected.
Led by Samuel Kariuki, they said the late Prof. Wangari Maathai had before her death been among people who opposed turning of the wetlands into a farm.
Source: Kenya News Agency