Nakuru elders caution KenGen land row risks geothermal power plan

A geothermal power generation plant at Olkaria in Naivasha. PHOTO | FILE

The protracted land row at the Ng’ati Farmers’ Co-operative in Maella, Naivasha, threatens geothermal exploration in the area, county leaders have warned.

The Rift Valley Council of Elders says, if not solved urgently, the land dispute threatens to derail Kenya’s target of lighting up 70 per cent of households by 2017.

“The ambitious project was aimed at further lowering the cost of electricity in the country but it is yet to take off.

“The disputes must be solved with urgency to ensure exploration commences,” said council chairman Gilbert Kabage in Nakuru.

The elders have called on State organs concerned, including the National Land Commission, to help solve the stand-off.

The leaders also warned that frequent land conflicts in the area may hurt investments in the geothermal rich region.

“This land rows are not good as they are scaring away investors. Relevant State organs should bring land conflicts in the region to an end,” he said.

The land tussle is pitting members of the land buying sacco against its leaders who they accuse of short-changing the members in sale of part of 3,093-acre piece of land that belongs to the sacco to Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen).

Sacco members claimed that the Sh500 million land sale deal between the sacco and KenGen was “shrouded in secrecy and dishonesty” because their leaders did not consult them.

Last week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who visited the area, directed officials of the land buying society to record statements with the regional Directorate of Criminal Investigations over the sale of the parcel of land belonging to members.

The leaders on Monday recorded statements which are expected to aid in investigations to unearth the contents of the alleged “dishonest” deal between KenGen and the officials.

According to members, the officials could not account for more than Sh200 million in proceeds from the land sale.

The Cabinet secretary also declared the sale of the disputed land to KenGen “null and void”.

The sacco officials, through their chairman Karanja Mwahuki, on the other hand, have maintained that the transaction was above board, with three independent valuers engaged to carry out valuation works, including one hired by the sacco.

The power-generating company, which has been putting up several power plants in Naivasha targeting to produce more than 300 megawatts, is yet to commence exploration on the parcel of land.

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