In 2003, Martha Karua, the Minister for Water, and David Kimunya, then Minister for Lands, issued a joint notice to stop the illegal and unprocedural handover of Yala Swamp to Dominion Farms until due diligence was carried out, all preliminary procedures and studies undertaken and statutory approvals obtained. What followed was a massive mobilization of the masses throughout Nyanza to demand the withdrawal of the notice.
Dominion took over tens of thousands of hectares for a song, in terms of rent and rates; tens of thousands were forcefully displaced from their homes, shambas and grazing land; rivers were diverted to flood villages displacing the villagers; pesticide-polluted and killed entire marine life in Lake Kanyaboli and other local water bodies, and livelihoods were destroyed.
The promise for work opportunities came to naught as the farm was highly mechanized. The billions of investment had zero impact on the local economy as no linkages were created. The neighboring villagers are poorer than in 2003.
Who benefited? Your guess is as good as mine.
After making his money, Calvin Badges took off, complaining that he has had to continuously pay heavy bribes to one family in the region. He was tired and could not sustain it going forward.
In a similar unprocedural manner, the swamp has now been handed over to RAI Family, a group of brothers known for nothing but bribery, corruption, and exploitation. No procedures have been followed. The mitigation mechanisms have been introduced to protect the masses against the socio, economic and environmental challenges they faced during Dominion Farm’s tenure.
The same cartel is currently using the Bridge to Nowhere to acquire Nyamthoi Wetland and Miwani Sugar Factory land and to regularize massive theft of public land in Kisumu city.
We must, however, close our eyes to all these. The two brothers are clean – ‘wasafi kama pamba’. Kenya’s problem is William Ruto. Once Ruto is destroyed, corruption will end in Kenya and manna will fall from heaven; so the new mantra goes. The same script has been previously used on Moi, Kibaki, and Uhuru, but forgotten immediately the High Priest is accommodated in the gravy train.
I am not boarding.