1,000 Trans Nzoia squatters face eviction in bus firm land dispute


More than 1,000 squatters at Tawai farm in Trans Nzoia are facing a possible eviction after the Supreme Court dismissed their request to challenge a judgment that declared transport firm Eldoret Express Ltd the legal owner of the 640-acre land.

Through their land buying company Tawai Ltd, the squatters wanted the Supreme judges to quash decision of the Court of Appeal to block them from taking the longstanding dispute to the apex court.

But the Supreme Court led by acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu affirmed the Court of Appeal's drcision and found there was reason to allow a second appeal and that there was no any significant question of law that requires further input of the Supreme Court.

At the centre of the land dispute is two title deeds issued for the same piece of land - one for Tawai Ltd and the other for Eldoret Express. The land lies to the South West of Kitale town at a place called Kiungani.

It was initially part of the larger block measuring 764 acres that was owned by Mr George Alexander Sinclair during collonialism.

The court battle started in 2008 when Eldoret Express sued seeking to be declared the owners of the vast land.

It said it had a genuine complaint of trespass executed by Tawai through its members and shareholders who took advantage of the tensions surrounding the disputed 2007 presidential election to invade the land.

Samwel Mbugua Thungu, a director of Eldoret Express, said after the invasion Express was unable to remove the squatters as the police were overwhelmed by the post-election violence that engulfed parts of the country.

He said Express bought the land from Kaitet Tea Estates at a cost of Sh40 million. He stated that Express started buying the suit land in 2000 and completed the transaction in 2001. He produced the original title deed and certificate of title.

On their side, Tawai said they were the registered owners of the land at all material times since 1976.

One of its directors Charles Wafula Masinde, stated how Tawai had bought the suit land in 1974 and took possession in October the same year. He said they took a loan from Kenya National Capital Corporation (KNCC) bank in 1981 and used the title as security.