African Press International (API)

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The Landless being fleeced by conmen in Rongo District on land allocation fraud

Posted by African Press International on October 1, 2008

<Investigative Reports By Leo Odera Omolo

Unsuspecting landless people and sugar cane farmers wishing to expand their farms have lost thousands of shilling to a group of well organized conmen and fraudsters cheating them that they would be settled in a new land scheme at Keyan, along the Rongo-Trans-Mara district borders.

The scam has been going on ever since the establishment of the multimillion shillings government owned Sony Sugar Company based at Awendo town in 1977. Thousands of farmers were displaced under the government land acquisition programme, which paved the way for the creation of nucleus estate for the white sugar manufacturing firm.

Some of those who were compensated handsomely by the government for their land plots, later parted with thousands of shilling paying out for a phantom land scheme along the Luo-Maasai, and have waited to be shown their plots for close to 30 years.

The scam is still going on. People are said to have travelled from a far field as Rachuonyo, Siaya, Kisumu and Suba district and paid for non-existence land plots,

Some people are said to have already sold their pieces of ancestral land in the hope of getting new parcel of land plots in this agriculturally rich region in vain.

And a survey carried by this writer at the weekend revealed that there is not even iota of land parcel, which is unregistered. All the pieces of land plots on the Maasai side of the border were demarcated many years ago and land title deed issued to the rightful owners.

The groups of land dealers are said to be based in South Sakwa location, around Mariwa and Ulanda markets. Others are said to be residents of Malunga school. Each time a small aircraft is seen flying low over the border areas, such flights became a boon for the conmen who tells the victims of their heinous scam that such aircraft had been sent by the government to carry out aerial survey of the parcel of land in question..

The names of people allegedly involved in ther scama were given as a Mr. Aseto Okundi and Ochieng Achando. All are the residents of South Sakwa Location, Rongo district . Other names of people allegedly linked to the scanma were given as Elsam Okoth Midiny,Daniel Opo Apindi and Odeny Amala..

The exact amount of money which the group is being rumoured to have received from the hungry landless people could not be established immediately. The victims of the scam are also said to be shying away from publicity. But the number is said to have swollen up running into hundreds.

Those whose names featured prominently in link with the scam could not be reached for the immediate comments, but the residents have appealed to the Provincial Administration and police authorities in Rongo, Migori and Trans-Mara districts to launch a full scale investigations with the view to bringing this issue to and immediate end.,

The victims are said to have sold their livestock, and even some sold their ancestral pieces of land while hopping to acquire new plots in the scheme.

It all started with the deadly rumoured that there were laying thousands of acreage of land along the Rongo-Trans=Mara district, which to date remained a no-mans land, and which is yet to be survey and demarcated. The land is said to be available in areas classified as Area A and AreaB. These were vacant areas in the late 1940s and 1950s during the internal disorder and tribal skirmishes pitting the indigenous Siria sub-clan of the Maasai which had settled in the areas at the opening of the 20th century against the newcomer sub-clans of Moitanik who migrated fronm Kitale and the Uasin Gishu sub-clans from Eldoret areas.

The two Maasai sub-clans were forcefully removed from Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia areas in the early 1920 to pave the way for the large scale White Settler farmers in the two areas, which were classified as part of the White Highland. The Two Maasai sub-clan were re-located to Trans-Mara area under the British-Maasai agreements.

The much more militarily superior Moitanik and Uasin Gishu moved in and over run areas previously occupied by Siria sub-clans. The fiercest Siria violently resisted the intruders, but could not withstand the prolonged war as they were miniority in the area, and at the same time the newcomers were being supported by the Colonial Administration, which had ealier on acquired their land in Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu areas. The skirmishes created a vacuum of land space sending Sirias to the Ole Nyati areas and vacating.

The Luos residents of South Sakwa and East Suna locations also benefited and moved to areas previously classified as AreaA and AreaB as this was the beginning of settlement of Luos and Luhyias in areas like Ogwedhi, Kwa, Upper Oyani, Mahena, Utoma and Angaga areas. And even the Abagusii of South Mugirango and part of Bomachoge secured some extra land in the Nyamaiya area.

The border land issue was later resolved by the then African District Council of South Nyanza and the African District Council of Narok {ADCs}, which met in 1948 and 1952 with their Narok counterpart and have the issue resolved once and for all. This agreement between the two then known local native council brought the matter to an end, and left no piece of land in the area for anybody to scrambled about.

Residents of Trans-Mara district says, they too, have heard about the land speculation and were wondering about the whereabouts of the piece of land in question. |As far as we are concerned, all the residents of the Luo-Maasai border areas have consolidated their land and duly registered them as required by the law of the land. Whoever is cheating people that there is vacant land along the border is a thief and is a big cheat, said a Maasai farmer at Sikawa Hills who preferred to maintain his anonymity.

Civic leaders in Trans-Mara district told this writer that the Maasais are generous people. Those amongst them who had oversized land plots have voluntarily sold part of their land to the Luos, the Kisii and even the Kuria on a willing buyer willing seller. All the communities are living around with us, and we are forging a head with the life peacefully.

The Maasai farmers also said they have heard people talking about a new settlement scheme in Keyan areas as common bar talks around Awendo, Mariwa, Oyani Maasai and Ogwedhi markets, but they really dont know the exact place where such land existed .

We have many alien farmers, and even the retired President Daniel Arap Moi is sugar cane farmers. Some are cultivating maize wheat and other cash crops on the Maasai side of the border.We dont discriminate anybody who has a lust for farming, but all these are done of mutual agreement with the Maasai land lords, and there is no room for a new settlement. scheme. Those who have paid the dealers handsomely, should demand their money back.

Mr Ole Tiampati a Sirian Maasai from Narok urged the government to investigate and arrest the illegal land speculators. They must be stopped from further fleecing the pockets of the poor farmers with the fake sales of land. There is no land for sale in Maasai land except special cases of individual deals..

None of the alleged land speculators could be reached , though this writer spent the whole day investigating the issue around Mariwa, Oyani, Ogwedhi and Angaga areas, but the issue is a common knowledge with people traveling from Sakwa West, North, Kamagambo East, Sakwal Centra, Sakwa East, Kanyamkago East, Kanyamkago North all said to have paid in advance and were waiting to be allocated with their parcel of land.




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