, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to immediately re-open the contentious Mihango-Kayole road for use by the public.
Following the directive leaders led by the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale visited the area where they told the public the road would be re-opened.
They however maintained that the contested 5,000 acre piece of land adjacent to the road belonged to KDF and not Nairobi County as claimed by Governor Evans Kidero.
“People have stolen land everywhere – now they want to steal land belonging to the military,” Duale said. “We will not allow them, as the Leader of Majority I stand with KDF. The problem was not the road; the problem here was that people wanted to illegally posses KDF land.”
Addressing Kayole residents after overseeing the reopening of the road, Duale assured the locals that military was keen to maintain a cordial relationship with them.
“If you take KDF to the courts you’re wasting your time,” he noted adding: “You cannot steal military land then take them to court. KDF land will remain under their custody and the road will remain accessible to citizen.”
Responding to the news of the reopening of the road, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero described the order by the President as, “ a big win for Eastlands residents as this will ensure reduced traffic congestion, shorten travelling distance necessitating fare reduction, increase market access to products by traders and business people, and increase property values.”
According to Kidero, the county’s claim over the parcel of land remains, insisting that the military illegally acquired the land from the county.
During the State House Summit on land early this month, Kidero protested over what he termed as intimidation by military officers guarding the land whenever county officers went to fix the road adjacent to the land in question.
“The County Government bought 5,000 acres of land from Kayole Estate back in 1971. In the nineties, the army invaded it and took 3,000 acres without due recourse to any compensation and four weeks ago, they blocked the remaining 2,000 acres,” he explained at the time.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi however dismissed claims that the Department of Defence was illegally occupying the land promising to look at the circumstances under which the acquisition occurred saying the ministry would have zero tolerance to land grabbing.
“It does not matter who commits this offence, but we must look at the context of the background behind which the land was acquired. In law, the government can compulsorily acquire land for health purposes, for security and for all other good reasons,” he said during the State House Summit on land. “However, according to the law which is very clear, it does not matter who you are. The National Land Commission must be able to look at the circumstances and take action.”
Nairobi Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh who also addressed Kayole residents, called upon the officer in-charge of Kahawa Garrison barracks to work closely with local leaders to avert conflicts in the future urging the local community to avoid running into conflicts with the military.
“KDF don’t have a problem with citizens. They only have a problem with people who want to grab their land,” she said.
Jubilee legislators who accompanied Duale also cautioned politicians against inciting citizens against the military saying such a move would jeopardise the security of the nation.
“Evans Kidero should not spoil our relationship with KDF,” said nominated MP Johnson Sakaja. “The real defence of Kenya is the people and the people elected a Commander-in-Chief who knows what he is doing.”
Duale was accompanied by a host of local leaders including Embakasi Central MP John Ndirangu, Mathare MP Stephen Kariuki, Mihango MCA Paul Kados and his Matopeni counterpart Abdi Guyo who also assured residents of the government’s commitment to safeguard their interests.
The Nairobi County recently moved to court where it obtained an order directing the opening up of the road pending the hearing and determination of the matter.