Kindiki Counters EAC CS, Wants Farmers Given Access to 25,000 Hectare TARDA Land

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki speaking in Mbeere on December 2, 2023.
Interior CS Kithure Kindiki speaking in Mbeere on December 2, 2023.

Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kithure Kindiki on Saturday revealed that the national government was considering a request from Mbeere residents to cultivate protected lands in Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA). 

While speaking in the area, Kindiki wants farmers to be allowed to cultivate sections of the 25,000 hectares owned by TARDA and simultaneously carry out conservation measures, contrary to a request made by his EAC counterpart, CS Peninah Malonza. 

TARDA land transverses Embu and Machakos Counties and acts as a buffer zone to protect people in case of accidental bleaching of dams along the stretch

“You have stated that you have a pressing issue on farming and that you would want to cultivate in the TARDA area as you conserve the environment,” Kindiki remarked. 

President William Ruto commemorating Hustler Fund anniversary at Statehouse on November 30, 2023
President William Ruto commemorating Hustler Fund anniversary at State House on November 30, 2023

“I want when the President (William Ruto) comes to ask for votes again in 2027, he finds you farming those areas.”

The CS further noted that he would lobby to have residents of the Mbeere region acquire title deeds for their lands and work with local leaders to ensure farming takes place. 

“I am from here and when Mbeere people have problems before they go to Nairobi they must tell me so that we can work together to benefit from the government we elected,” he added. 

In April 2021,  over 3,000 residents of Mbeere South were evicted from the government-owned property. 

At the time, the government stated that the evictions were legal exercises in a bid to safeguard the buffer zones of both Masinga and Kiambere Dams. Local leaders have continued to fight the eviction, claiming it is part of a grand scheme to have the land sold to wealthy private investors.

Kindiki’s promise came a month after Arid, and Semi-Arid CS Peninah Malonza rejected a push to hive off part of the land. While addressing Parliament in October, Malonza asked lawmakers to reject a petition by Tana Delta residents of Tana Delta seeking approval of a review of the boundaries.

She argued that hiving part of the 25,875 hectares would prevent TARDA from accessing Tana River waters crucial for rice and sugarcane irrigation. 

“Varying the boundaries will have detrimental consequences if the part of the land that extends south of the Garsen Constituency is hived off. We have conducted extensive feasibility studies and confirmed the suitability of the land to produce rice and sugarcane. The government has spent more than Ksh6 billion on the project,” Malonza warned.

Masinga multipurpose dam commissioned in 1982
Masinga multipurpose dam commissioned in 1982
  • . .