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Friday, 18 November 2011

Konza Ranch: Approval for subdivision but...

NEMA bows to pressure 
By Anchor Reporters
 
KONZA Ranch flexed its muscles, forcing the National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) into action towards the subdivision of the ranch.
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 It appears to be the latest step in the unstoppable march by the Ranch owners towards owning individual land parcels that they can sell and reap the benefits of their investment of many years.
 By giving the 1594 members an approval ahead of granting a full License to partition the 22,000 acres, NEMA must have been acting to pre-empt that planned march to State House that the farmers were planning to demand audience with President Mwai Kibaki and later to the Prime Minister’s Office for a face off with Mr Raila Odinga.
 However the approval letter had issues that the Ranch management, led by Mr David Mutangili has been meeting to sort out. Among the issues was a requirement that they meet with KWS and determining the fate of wildlife living in the ranch that is already blockaded by subdivision of other ranches within the area. They also have to map out details of public utility land to be reposed with the County Council of Makueni and water infrastructure already existing within the ranch.
 Sources close to the ranch management say they have struck an agreement with the KWS to relocate wildlife in the ranch as thy sort out the other issues. Farmers at Konza, the source added, will not be stopped by anything in having the ranch sub-divided.
 Konza ranching  got the approval after unrelenting pressure by a team of shareholders on Nema Director General Dr Ayub Macharia.
 The members led by their spokesman John Mutuku Mbuvi and supported by Mr Kalembe Ndile, who is also a member, threatened to stage a sit-in at the Nema offices until they get the approval. “We have been chasing this approval for the past two years. Today we are not going home until we get the letter,” the spokesman told the Nema authorities.
 This prompted the Nema boss to hurriedly convene a meeting with other top officials. He returned shortly to announce to the members that they had been granted an approval. “This is the best news we have received in the past two years,” Kioko Mutunga, a member and employee of the ministry of Tourism said after getting news of the approval.
 It was the second visit to the NEMA offices in a week when the same team marched to the Nema head office demand an explanation why the approval was taking too long to be granted. Acting director general, Kennedy Ondimu told them to return later for a feed back. It was at the return visit that they vowed not to leave the premises until they got the approval.
 On issuing them with the license, Dr Macharia told the members that there was no external influence on Nema not to approve the sub-division as claimed by a section of the members.
 With the approval, the society will now divide 22,000 acres of its Konza and Kima farms to 1,590 members. Each is expected to over 10 acres of agriculture land and two acre commercial plots.
The prime land which is 50 kilometers south of Nairobi along the Mombasa highway has attracted many interested investors including the government which intents to put up an airport in the area.
 Recently, VP Kalonzo said in Machakos that the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing of the US was looking for land in the area to establish their Africa operations.
 Konza farmers want to be the people selling the land to investors and not go-betweens who have been seeking to jail some ranch officials and gain access to the ranch through proxies as was the case with Malili Ranch. “We are urging our members not to sell their shares right away as there are better things to come and they stand to benefit more for their patience,” Konza chairman David Mutangili said
 The land which is adjacent to the proposed Konza ICT techno-city( formerly Malili Ranch) has also seen a mad-rush for property in the area which has forced prices to rise astronomically.


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