Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa was yesterday told to keep off land issues and let them to be addressed by the National Land Commission.
Led by Majority Leader, Abdallah Kasagamba, members of the Mombasa County Assembly criticised Mr Marwa for his attempt to influence land owners in Mombasa to accept the compensation offered to them for the standard gauge railway project. Mr Marwa had also warned elected leaders that they would be arrested for inciting land owners to reject the compensation offers.
Politicians in the area have rejected the compensation as too little and asked those affected to reject the money offered to them. Most of the owners of the 1,400 plots at Magande in Jomvu have been offered between Sh5,000 and Sh200,000.
National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri last week said the ownership documents for the 1,400 would be scrutinised to ascertain who were the true owners before they can be paid to pave the way for the railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi.
Yesterday, the 15 MCAs told Mr Marwa to stop interfering with the work of the National Land Commission.
â€œHis work is to ensure safety of all the residents. Why is he poking his nose in what doesnâ€™t concern him?â€ asked Mr Kasagamba during a press conference at the county sssembly hall.
â€œWe advise him let the two institutions mandated to deal with land issues be given time to settle the matter without interference from anyone.â€
Last week, Mr Marwa warned county officials who he claimed were inciting residents to revolt against the projects that they would be arrested and prosecuted.
The controversy between Marwa and the county leadership spilled over when Governor Hassan Joho, accompanied by his Lands executive, Mr Francis Thoya, led residents in rejecting the cash offered in exchange for their land.
Miritini Ward Representative Kibwana Swaleh Baya accused Mr Marwa of fighting the â€œwrong warâ€ by involving himself in land matters.
â€œThe issue is with Dr Muhammad Swazuri, who is the chairman of the National Land Commission. Mr Marwa should know that his core responsibility is to ensure security, let the land problem be addressed by the lands commission,â€ Mr Baya said.
The county commissioner had accused Mr Thoya of inciting the residents against the railway project. He had also said that police officers who roughed up China Bridge and Construction Company contractors would be arrested over the incident.
Mr Thoya has denied the allegations, saying he was defending the rights of the land owners and shielding them from discrimination.
MCAs defended the action of the police officers, saying they were protcting the locals.
â€œThe police officers did not manhandle anyone, they were (protecting) the contractor from being harassed by the angry locals. It was their responsibility to maintain peace and order,â€ said Mr Kasagamba.
Mr Baya said the area residents had been sidelined whereas absentee landlords had been paid the biggest compensation.
They also asked the county commissioner to come out openly and declare his personal interest in the project.
â€œWe would like to ask him to be frank and tell us if he has any interest in the project. We wonâ€™t allow our people to suffer and other people to benefit.
â€œWe want fair treatment of the residents,â€ said Mr Kasagamba.
â€œTen thousand people will be affected. Let them be fairly compensated. We support the standard gauge railway project, but what we want is a review of the compensation. Paying someone Sh5,000 and others millions is discriminating,â€ he said.
The commission had announced that land along the 8km stretch, part of which borders the Indian Ocean would be compensated at a cost of Sh4 billion.