MP, KTN Staff Arrested During Govt Evictions

Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King'ang'i
  • Update: Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King’ang’i was on Saturday, April 24, arrested at Makima while protesting against the eviction of thousands of residents from disputed land in Embu county.

    Also detained were a group of journalists including KTN reporter Daniel Moige and Cameraman Muriithi Mugo who were covering the eviction of the residents living on the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA) disputed land.

    The legislator and the reporters were held at Yatta Police Station.

    Police have not explained the reason behind the arrest of King’ang’i and the journalists.

    Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King’ang’i

    Over 5,000 families in Embu County were left homeless following a mass demolition exercise conducted by the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA).

    The exercise which commenced on Friday, April 23, was carried out in the Makima area with the authority noting that it was necessary as it attempted to reclaim the riparian land.

    A number of traders in the area were also left counting losses as bulldozers descended on their structures in  Ndunguni market.

    Residents during the demolitions in Embu county
    Residents during the demolitions in Embu county on April 23, 2021.

    The residents complained that the demolitions were not fair claiming that they had not been given the notice to vacate the land.

    “We only saw the police officers come with men in bulldozers and they gave us little time to pick our things and leave,” one resident lamented.

    Others noted that they had lost their property and livelihoods after the abrupt demolitions.

    “Where will we go and we have been living here for years? We have nothing and nowhere to go to,” one resident noted.

    The demolitions come a month after TARDA had issued eviction notices to residents living near Kiambere Dam and Masinga dams.

    The affected residents expressed their concern that they would be rendered homeless after they were ordered to vacate without being compensated.

    TARDA is a state corporation under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources which was established in 1974 to undertake integrated planning, development, coordination and management of the resources within the Tana.

    The state has, over the years, been engaged in a push and pull with the residents whom TARDA also warns may be adversely affected if the two dams break their banks.

    In November 2019, then Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui warned that Masinga Dam nearly spilled over and posed a threat not only to the residents but the nearby town of Garissa.

    The residents however refused to vacate from the parcel arguing that it was their ancestral land.

    an undated photo showing Masinga Dam overflowing in Mwingi.
    An undated photo showing Masinga Dam overflowing in Mwingi.

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