Some 144 farmers who are members of Kiganjo Valley Farmers Group stormed Athi Water Services Board offices in Juja demanding compensation of their damaged crops at the Thika South Sewerage System site.
The infuriated farmers said the company has been taking them for a ride whenever they demanded the compensation since their crops were damaged to pave way for the construction of the World Bank-funded sewerage system in Kiganjo, Thika.
Led by their Chairman John Mwangi on Tuesday, the farmers later stormed the site and halted construction operations for hours as they sought audience with the company. They said that they were not opposed to the Project since it was a major development in the area, but were against the way Athi Water Services Board (the project engineers) was handling their compensation claims.
“We weren’t given any notice to leave the farm; they just told us that the project would kick off in three days time. Our crops were not ready and they agreed to compensate us. We signed the compensation forms which they told us that it would be processes within a month. It’s one and a half years now and they have been dodging us like plague.
We demand our compensation,” Mwangi said. Mwangi said that even though the land do not belong to the farmers, the compensation they agreed with AWSB has to be honored saying that the farm was the only source of livelihood for most of the farmers. He said that the farmers are demanding an estimated sh 10 million compensation for the damages on their crops.
“They conducted a valuation of the items that were in the farm and verified the amount which each farmer was to get as reparation. If they are genuine people they should stop the hide and seek games and tell us on face whether the money was released and pocketed by some individuals or there’s still hope for us,” the Chairman said.
Farmer Peter Mburugu whose damages amount to sh 60, 540 said that they were promised to get employment at the site but none has been recruited. However an Engineer at the AWSB offices who only identified himself as Eng Muriuki, in an attempt to calm down the farmers, said that the delays to compensate the farmers was occasioned by government bureaucracy that involved the company, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, the Directorate of Nairobi Metropolitan Development and World Bank.
“We have already completed verifying the affected farmers and it’s just a matter of time before the issue is settled,” Muriuki said. He was however forced to scamper for his dear life after the farmers turned against him accusing him of repeating the same ‘lies’ for over an year. Kamenu Ward MCA Elizabeth Muthoni who calmed the irate farmers called on the relevant bodies to settle the matter before it goes out hand. She said that the cash should be released to the farmers to avert more trouble at the construction site.
“I appeal to the government to follow up the matter with the concerned bodies and ensure that the farmers get their right. They are poor peasants who have been dependant on the farm for a living. If any unscrupulous individuals have stomached the cash they should be made to face the full force of the law,” Muthoni said.
The farmers are now calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in the case and help them get their compensation saying that they will force halt of construction at the site next week if teir plight won’t be addressed. The World Bank in 2015 funded the Kenyan Government through Nairobi Metropolitan Services Improvement Project (NaMSIP) for the construction of Juja &Thika Sewerage system (trunk sewer systems, reticulation and waste water treatment plant).