Residents fault ruling on 10,000-acre Miwani Sugar land


Entrance of Miwani Sugar Factory in Kisumu County. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI

Residents of Muhoroni and Tinderet sub-counties have vowed to challenge a court decision that gave ownership of land hosting Miwani Sugar Company to a private company.

The Environment and Land Court ruled that the land belongs to Crossley Holdings Limited.

This has not gone well with locals who feel the land is communal and that it belongs to them.

The Miwani Sugar Factory which went into receivership in 2000, occupies 10,000 acres of land, is a shadow of its former glory.

The land has been at the centre of controversy for nearly three decades.

Before its collapse, the company was run by businessman Ketan Somaia. But Crossley Holdings Limited claimed the land belongs to them. However, locals drawn from Sidho, Kabar, Wang’aya, Nandi communities want the government to revert the land to the community.

Sidho community spokesperson Charles Otieno Maina said before the collapse of the sugar company, locals had given out their land for the sugar mill.

"We are the first community to lease land to the white settlers for sugarcane production all the way from Kibos to Londiani," said Mr Otieno.

He argues the leasing of the land to white settlers ended in 2009.

"Originally our land was taken by the Europeans in 1902 for sugarcane and coffee farming. But the land should be returned to the community before the factories are privatised," he said.

Kipngetich Chepkwony, a resident of Tinderet, said they will not allow corrupt people to possess land that doesn’t belong to them.

Joseph Obwan appealed to Chief Justice Martha Koome to review the land case.

“We are appealing for justice to be served to the communities that leased their land for sugarcane production,” said Dr Obwan.

Locals have also accused a section of leaders of seeking to benefit from the sale of sugar factory land.

Muhoroni MP James Koyoo said that he will continue guarding the interests of the community.

“We will make an appeal on the judgement that was delivered in October. I know of politicians who are working with cartels to defraud locals of their land,” said Mr Koyoo.

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