Tana River: Irrigation Authority agrees to cede 2,000 acres for expansion of Hola town, settlements

The National Irrigation Authority has agreed to cede part of its 12,630 acre land at the Tana Irrigation Scheme in Tana River County for the expansion of Hola town and settlements.

The NIA Deputy Manager in charge of Corporate Services Daniel Atula told the Public Petitions Committee of the National Assembly that they were in the process of identifying the areas to be ceded off that fall under the 2,000 acres agreed.

“That particular parcel of land within the larger 12,630 acres can now be ceded to allow the town expansion through a proper channel and we are not opposed to that. It is important now to take stock of where the boundaries are and identify the targeted parcels,” he said.

Hola town, which is the County headquarters, has had a challenge of expansion since all the land in the area belongs to the NIA and most County and National government infrastructure and installations are within the NIA land.

The Public Petitions Committee chaired by Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai which toured the county on Friday, is working on a petition by Galole MP Said Hiribae who wants the government to degazette the Hola Irrigation Scheme land to allow the expansion of the County headquarters.

“The NIA has agreed to the prayer by MP for Galole to shelve off 2,000 acres so that it can create room for the town of Hola to expand and that has been minuted and the committee will table the report in parliament for adopted when adopted the ministry will directly degazette the 2,000 acres and the land will revert to the county government who will now allocate to various institutions and individuals,” Mbai said.

In his petition, he said that the scheme was gazette in 1960 for settlement of Mau Mau freedom fighters and residents of Tana River but its closeness to Hola town has challenged the expansion of the town.

“In a bid to address this long standing challenge, officials of the National Government and the County government of Tana River, the National Irrigation Authority, Members of Parliament, the National Land Commission and other stakeholders met in Hola on 15th July 2021 and mutually agreed to degazette 2,000 acres in the southern and eastern parts of the Scheme to facilitate expansion of Hola Town,” Hiribae stated in his petition.

Hiribae urged residents to be patient as the matter was being addressed.

Locals said that they will not allow to be displaced to other areas and that they should be settled wherever they are.

“Compensations is not an option and the occupied parcels should be within the 2,000 acres. You cannot claim that the NIA will demolish a house worth Sh. 2 million then compensate the owner,” said Chekea Komora from Chewani village.

Mohamed Didha who is a former assistant chief of Chewani Sub location said that the population had grown from about 3,000 when the scheme started to the current population of more than 10,000 people hence the 2,000 acres ceded should be increased.

“We are too crowded and it will be better if the 2,000 acres will be increased so that we get enough land to settle on.

Chewani MCA Hamisi Iddi said that the NIA land should be devolved since all land is devolved according to the constitution.

His sentiments were echoed by Deputy Governor Mahat Ali Koka.

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