Murang’a Woman Rep clashes with KTDA over use of a 65-acre piece of land

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Murang’a Woman Rep. Sabina Chege talking to officials of KTDA at Gituamba farm at Kigumo Sub county. The MP wants the land to revert to its original purpose of training farmers on afforestation.
Photo by: Bernard Munyao/KNA

Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege wants a 65-acre piece of land at Gituamba area of Kigumo Sub County at the centre of a controversy with KTDA to revert to the community.

Chege on Thursday clashed with officials of KTDA who were supervising the replanting of eucalyptus trees on the parcel, which she says belongs to the community.

She accused KTDA of planting trees which consume a lot of water and obviously not good for the area.

Speaking to KNA Chege said her statement was taken out of context by some users of social media who claimed she was against the forest cover due to cold weather.

She stressed that KTDA has been using the land, which was initially used to train local residents on best practices of afforestation.

“This land used to have fruit trees but currently it is being used by KTDA to grow eucalyptus trees for fuel for their factory. Let the agency revert the land to its original purpose.

“Because of growing the eucalyptus trees, some rivers have started to dry up since the trees are not suited to protecting water catchment areas,” added Chege.

She said since KTDA took over the land, locals have not benefited from it, apart from firewood that is offered when the tea factories cut the trees for their fuel.

Chege added that residents have been against the project, which was imposed on a land registered for agricultural research.

“Am not afraid of the backlash from people who are trying to say am against planting of trees. I will fight for the rights of the locals,” she further said.

The land was a subject for debate at Murang’a County Assembly in 2016 following a petition by the residents who asked to have it reverted to community use.

In a rejoinder, Francis Macharia a board member at KTDA accused Chege of being insincere on details pertaining to the afforestation programme done by the agency.

Macharia, while speaking to KNA on phone observed that the land LR/Kinyona /loc/2/786 is registered under KTDA Holding Company for tree planting to safeguard the environment and supplement firewood used by tea processing factories.

“The legislator is being insincere when saying that the trees will bring cold weather and will be a hideout for criminals. KTDA has been growing trees on this piece of land for a long period,” noted Macharia.

In the past seven years, residents living at the border of the Aberdare have demanded back their land after the defunct county council of Maragua allegedly leased it to KTDA for tree planting.

The residents have been blaming the KTDA for planting of the exotic trees, which they argue have occasioned drying of Kinyona stream that originated from the area.