Beatrice Muthoni Muthi, a land owner at Ridgeway Estate has been accused of changing a river course to the disadvantage of her neighbor at Muthaiga North Estate by dumping soil and debris into the river bed.
Ms Muthoni has land adjacent to Rui Ruaka River, and she sought to illegally expand her land by dumping soil and debris on her side plus sand gabions on the original river bed. This has occasionally resulted in flooding and change of river course whenever it rains, slicing a big chunk of land belonging to opposite neighbour Faustine Njoroge Njuguna.
According to documents and photos in our possession, this matter has been reported to several government agencies for intervention but their interest is always short-lived.
First, the incidence was reported to Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) by the Muthaiga North Residents Association. Warma ordered Ms Muthoni to stop dumping the soil, and remove the soil that had already been dumped into the river with a deadline of March 29, 2017. Ms Muthoni ignored the letter, and continued dumping the soil past the deadline.
On March 22, 2017, Mr Njuguna wrote to the County Government of Nairobi, requesting intervention of the county.
“The owners of the Ridgeways plot have and continued to dump soil and debris to the river resulting in its blockage and flooding in the properties of adjacent neighbours across the river. This will obviously escalate at the onset of heavy rains leading to major losses hence my appeal to you for intercession,” read the letter in part.
In a survey report done by Covenant Geo-survey systems in August 2017, it was found that actually the course of the river had been diverted through dumping, and had eaten into Mr Njuguna’s land.
Following the ignorance by Warma and Nairobi County, Njuguna launched his complains to the Commission on Administrative Justice famously known as Office of the Ombudsman, which wrote to Warma on January 31, 2018 demanding answers.
Warma was given 14 days to respond to the complains.
“The complainant now seeks to have the matter addressed with a view of having action taken to stop his neighbour from dumping soil on River Ruaka’s riparian area. By means of this letter, we request you to respond to the allegations within fourteen (14) days; clearly indicating your position on the same, steps taken, if any, or intended actions and time-frames in the event,” the letter from Ombudsman read in part.
Warma wrote back on February 12, 2018, promising to fast-track compliance of the law on the same and issue a report “in due course”. However, Warma never issued any report, and the Office of Ombudsman had to write to them again on July 4, 2018 seeking answers.
Warma responded again on July 24, 28, saying that the offender, Ms Muthoni, had been arrested after failing to comply with the orders and booked under the OB number 79/18/7/8 at Kasarani Police Station. However, when Mr Njuguna visited the station with the OB Number, the OCS Mr Muchemi Kiruhi refused to admit his complains, on grounds that the OB number was erroneous and non-existent in the station.
As of May 2019, Mr Njuguna had not been invited as a prosecution witness by Warma, meaning the case was never prosecuted. Letters seen by this writer show that despite asking Warma to be furnished with prosecution details, Mr Njuguna never got any from the body.
Office of the Ombudsman had to reopen the file of the case, and demanded to know the status of the case in a letter dated June 4, 2019, which Warma never responded to.
Currently, Athi Water Works Development Agency intends to build a sewer line along the same river and Warma have mapped Mr Njuguna’s side of the river for the line. They have taken the assumption that the river is in its rightful place and intend to use part of the lower part of the affected plot for the sewer line. They have accordingly written to Muthaiga North residents affected by the line about land valuation for purposes of compensation.
“There is also a proposed construction of a sewer line on my side of the river and Warma have mapped about eight meters for use. They want me to sign for compensation. But I have declined because there is more than enough space for that use if the river is reverted to its natural/original course,” says Mr Njuguna in a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions dated December 11, 2019.
“Kindly note that if justice is served for me and the river and the latter reinstated to where it belongs, the issue of compensating me would not arise because the riparian area would be more than adequate for the sewer. And I do not think it will be right for the government to spend money compensating me while its land is stolen,” he adds in another letter.
The dumping is said to be so intense that it would require heavy machinery to clear the river.
Mr Njuguna is now seeking justice from relevant authorities, and wants action taken against corrupt officials who may have been involved in protecting Ms Muthoni.