Mayoral poll dragged to the grave

June 16, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – The campaigns for the Nairobi mayoral seat got dirty on Tuesday after Deputy Mayor John Njoroge Chege challenged the incumbent Geoffrey Majiwa to resign over a city graveyard case.

Mr Njoroge wants his boss to account for the sale of a 120 acre plot in Kitengela which he claimed was sold under irregular circumstances.

The land was to serve as the city’s new burial site but the proposal was rejected by technocrats in the council.

The deputy mayor alleged that the advertisement seeking bidders was placed in September; three months after the initial payment of the Sh175 million had been made. Mr Njoroge suspects impropriety.

“I have been following this issue and looking for documents on this transaction for the last two weeks, because we were told that none of the bidders had qualified for the tender even after it was re-advertised, so we assumed the status quo will stand,” he said.

Mr Chege said the proposed new burial site which is located 10 kilometres off the Athi River-Kitengela Road is inaccessible and would be costly for many City residents.

“Burial space at Lang’ata Cemetery is full, and the Council decided to get a new site. Unfortunately those who were handling the acquisition went and got land in Athi River which is very far, especially for low income earners who will now spend almost Sh50, 000 to ferry their loved ones to the proposed site as opposed to Sh5,000 used for the nearby Lang’ata Cemetery,” he said.

Mayor Majiwa had promised to hold a media conference in response to the allegations but failed to do so. He was said to be held up at a day-long local authorities seminar.

But a section of councillors questioned the claims by the Deputy Mayor saying they were political and linked to the forthcoming elections.

“Why is he coming out now? If he wanted to be a whistle blower, he should have come out from the onset when he suspected something is wrong. May be he is doing this because he didn’t get his cut in the deal,” said the official who sought anonymity.

The controversial 120-acre parcel of land earmarked for a Nairobi Cemetery was acquired by City Hall at a cost of Sh283 million.

The cemetery saga is before the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities which is supposed to table findings of its investigation in 90 days.

Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi raised a question on the sale of the land in Parliament where he alleged that the deal was corrupt since 12 bids are said to have been filed at City Hall, but none received a reply, the MP said.

The valuation report for the “rocky piece of land” is also said to have been rejected by the Ministry of Lands.

“We cannot bury (dead) people under rocks. We need to cover their graves using red soil,” read the report.


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