County accused of grabbing land

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Uasin Gishu Governor, Jackson Mandago.
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By Kennedy Lumwamu

A group which donated land for a public utility in Uasin Gishu County thirty-six years ago have sued the county for allegedly planning to use the parcel for purposes not initially meant for.

16 residents of Cheptiret Uriri Farm told an Eldoret court that they jointly donated 20 acres in 1983 for a market centre, with 0.55 acres earmarked for recreational purposes, but the county wants to turn it into an office block without regard for its intended purpose.

They contend that the land, registered as LR No 7728/1 and 3655 measuring 20 acres, belongs to the public, and hold they need to be involved in any plans for change of user, particularly on the disputed portion.

In a representative suit filed by Mr Kimutai Kirui, Maritim Rirei and Moses Mwangi, the donors say that the county government has erected a permanent wall on the plot and is planning to construct offices on it.

They said the portion is meant for public meetings, campaign rallies, church activities, cinema viewing and as a playing ground for children among other social events.

They told the court that in November 2018 the county government encroached on the piece of land and purported to unlawfully occupy it. They claim the county government further caused the piece of land to be changed from its intended purposes using unlawful means.

The group is seeking to permanently block the institution from enacting its plans. The court had issued temporary orders stopping the institution from engaging in any activities on the piece of land but lifted the orders on December 18, when the plaintiffs sought an adjournment to file more documents to prosecute the case.

Meanwhile, the county government, through its lawyers, has opposed plans to either extend the temporary injunction or issue an order of permanent injunction saying that it had already paid Sh100million to a contractor and that it would be sued for breach of contract if the work is stopped. But the plaintiffs have faulted this, asserting the money was not limited to the development of the parcel but included other projects outside the disputed plot, and accused the county of misrepresenting facts.

The plaintiffs further assert they cannot issue a security because it they are acting on behalf of the public without drawing any benefits, and that denying them a hearing because of a failure to execute security would be unfair since the court should act as an arbiter between the parties until the conclusion of the dispute.

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