The ownership of Kedong Ranch, an expansive prime land tucked between Narok, Nakuru and Kajiado counties took a fresh twist on Saturday after a section of the Maasai community protested blocking access routes to the ranch.
They invaded the ranch and vandalized barbed wire mesh fences along the Narok-Maimahiu road in what they termed a fresh bid to repossess the land they claim is their ancestral land.
Running battles ensued moments later after police officers guarding the ranch and those from Suswa police station arrived at the scene and started shooting in the air to repulse the invaders.
The invasion protest was the latest of many such incidents over the ownership of the 78,000 acres of land where prominent individuals and business executives are said to have been listed as shareholders.
Part of the ranch serves as a dry port used by Kenya and Uganda. Some of the 1000 acres are where the dry port at the expansive holding of 78,000 acres Ranch was built given to the government by the management of the ranch plus 1000 acres given to Uganda and South Sudan respectively.
Another 4000 acres were gifted to the local community as compensation but it has been a bond of contention as the 30,000 members of the Kitet community who have been living in the land since time immemorial say they are yet to benefit from the offer.
“We will destroy the ring of fences erected around this land and seal trenches dug around it if the government fails to address our plight and revert the land back to us, which was grabbed by a cartel of powerful individuals after the colonialists left the country,” William Sipai, a Maasai land activist, said.
He said the land was under the 99 years British colonial lease which ended in 2004 and wanted the land given back to the community. He thanked President Ruto for returning back the dry port in Naivasha to Mombasa as part of the ranch had been set for the dry port signaling hopes that they will get their land back.
In what he termed as preparation for the forceful takeover of the land by the community, Sipai pleaded with the newly elected president William Ruto to make true his pledges and revert the land to the community as he promised during his campaign pledges when he toured the area.
“President Ruto said Kenya Kwanza team has solutions of the lingering land question and the pending historical land injustices solution and once he clinched the country’s topmost seat he would solve them in the first 100 days, now that he is the president he should act on the Kedong ranch land dispute first,” Kupai said.
Like many other holdings, the Kedong ranch was not restituted to the community but instead became available for purchase in the post-colonial era under the first president Jomo Kenyatta’s willing buyer-willing seller policy.
William ole Kitashi Ngussur, William Maisedo, Kirisiet Ole Maisodo who are over 50 years and have lived in the land from the time they were born said they were raised and married in the land but unfortunately they were evicted by people with an Ill-motive of grabbing their land.
Addressing the press in the land before they started bringing down the fences Ngussurr said that their forefathers lived and were buried on the land asking the new administration to help them get back their land.
Maisodo said the land was grabbed after a few residents were deceived and signed unknowingly for the land to be given out.
He claimed that the police officers put on the ground to guard the ranch have been terrorizing the residents while others have taken their wives and turned them to be their concubines.