2015 letter by the then Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua exposes how contentious Athi River land belonging to Portland Company was grabbed.
It has now come to light that eight years ago, Alfred Mutua, a former governor of Machakos County, raised concerns over the illegal sale of land in Athi River belonging to East Africa Portland Cement.
Following the controversial sale of the 4,298-acre plot of land, families with houses built on contested East African Portland Company (EAPCC) land are counting losses after the government moved in to demolish the residences in line with a directive issued by President William Ruto.
In a letter dated November 13, 2015, Mutua wrote to the then Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo asking him to investigate the alleged illegal sale of the land.
“I write to request for an urgent investigation into ongoing corruption and land grabbing of East African Portland Cement Company Limited land L.R. No. 7815/1, 10424, 10425, 8784/4 and 8786 located at Athi River, Mavoko Constituency,” Mutua said in a letter addressed to Waqo.
“The land, leased to East African Portland Cement Company Limited, has started being grabbed, sub-divided and sold, without the knowledge of the East African Portland Cement Company Limited Board and my Government of Machakos.”
At the time, Mutua argued that a prominent MP had colluded with officials from the Ministry of Lands to transfer squatters to the area which he argued was the perfect recipe for land grabbing.
“Our initial investigations show that squatters were imported to the said land a few months ago to create the environment for land invasion and grabbing.”
The former Governor further claimed wealthy individuals had moved in and blatantly started building mansions on the land against the law.
“Already, people have been sold plots and started constructing. My Government has not approved sub-division, planning or building permits.
Many people, we suspect, have been conned. If this matter is not handled expeditiously, we fear that it may culminate in bloodshed,” he added.
The letter was copied to among others then Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, former Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, former CID boss Ndegwa Muhoro, former NLS chair Muhammed Swazuri and then chairman and director of the East African Portland Cement Company Limited William Lay.
It, however, remains unclear whether the authorities acted on the letter in question.
On Friday, Ruto ordered the grabbed land to be recovered and transferred to the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in Athi River.
“I have given clear instructions to the management here that all speculators, people who have held titles to pieces of land for 10, 15, 20, 30 years without developing them, should be revoked so that we can give it to people who want to use this facility,” he directed.
His directive was informed by a recent court ruling in which a suit filed in 2014 by some of the occupants of the land was dismissed by a Machakos Court.