About 300 residents of Kambini in Tsunza, Kinango sub-county of Kwale are crying foul over their imminent eviction from their ancestral land to pave way for the Dongo Kundu project.
The residents say it is unfortunate that construction works have already kicked off despite having not received any compensation for their land.
Once completed, the Dongo Kundu Bypass Highway also called Mombasa Southern Bypass Highway will connect Mombasa and Kwale counties without having to pass through Mombasa Island.
But even with the project expected to transform the region, the residents say the infrastructure project has seen their crops including coconut and custard apples uprooted while the graves in which their relatives have been interred are about to be destroyed.
According to Riziki Athman, the government had acquired six acres of their 15-acre ancestral land for which they were to be compensated 52 million shillings.“However, when the award letter came, the amount indicated as compensation was only 16 million and it was for a parcel of land with another plot number,” says Riziki.
Mghala Mwadeka, an octogenarian who has lived his whole life in the village says he has nowhere else to go.
“If the government wants to take our land, then it is only fair that we are compensated before we leave but evicting us using strangers is not fair,” said Mwadeka.
For Saumu Juma, the project has left them at the mercy of land cartels who are now claiming their ancestral land.
“We are the ones who planted these coconut trees but now somebody is trying to elbow us out of our inheritance. Strangers are coming to us saying they bought the land and being told to move out and wonder how our land can be sold without our consent” posed Juma.
Riziki says they have been to all government offices including the chief’s, the deputy county commissioner’s and the local MP’s.
Gandini assistant chief Munga Ndegwa however says his office is yet to receive complaints from the residents.
On his part Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya say they are monitoring on the progress of the Dongo Kundu Bypass as well as the Mwache multipurpose water projects undertaken by the national government including compensation for the affected persons.
“As a leadership we reiterate our support to this projects but we also want proper compensation to the affected citizens who are ready to give way for the projects” he says.