Kenya: Dominion Farms chief fears for his life
Nairobi Star | 30 August 2011

Justus Ochieng'

Dominion group of companies boss Calvin Burgess has recorded statement at the Siaya Police Station over threats on his life.

Burgess recorded the statement after he was chased by angry villagers who were protesting eviction from their farms which the company insists belongs to them. The investor was allegedly chased by panga wielding villagers at Yala swamp.

Siaya deputy police boss Lanet Sili confirmed yesterday that they are carrying out investigations. "He has indeed recorded statement and we are doing what we can to ensure his safety," said Sili. Burgess has also alerted the American Embassy in Nairobi over the threats. The investor said he has received calls from several foreign embassies wanting to know if he is safe.

Last week, over 1,000 villagers said to have invaded part of the Dominion Rice Farms in Siaya County were evicted by anti riot police. The incident came a week after Nigerian former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited the multibillion rice farms.

Following the complaint, Boro West councillor Leonard Oriaro who engaged the police in a heated argument during the protests was yesterday arrested on claims of incitement. When the police went to arrest the civic leader herefused to open the door. But after the officers threatened to break in, Oriaro let them in and was taken to Siaya police station.

The residents had been given three months to harvest their crops and stop cultivating the land but they continued to plant after the deadline.

Siaya District Commissioner Boaz Cherutich maintained that those farming on land belonging to Dominion must leave accusing the villagers of undermining the farms President Calvin Burgess. He said some of the villagers were squatting on the investor's farm adding that a time had come for them to vacate.

The DC lamented that despite the fact that they reached an agreement with the villagers four Months ago to leave the parcel of lands, they had failed to honour the agreement. "It is unfortunate that we had reached an agreement with the area local leaders and the Siaya county council to give the villagers three months grace period which has now extended to the fourth month but the villagers are still unwilling to leave the land," he said.

Dominion acting director Chris Abir said the company was allocated a total of 17,000 acres for rice farming and they have only managed to reclaim about 3,500 acres and their efforts to expand the field are being thwarted by the invaders.

He maintained that the villagers had been given enough time and warned that the government will not keep it lying down as a few people continue frustrating the investor. He cautioned the public against causing havoc at the multibillion investment adding that this may scare away the investor.

The DC wondered why the farmers had ignored the 150 acres allocated to residents of both sides of Siaya and Bondo to carry out farming activities and instead creating unnecessary tension by invading land given to Dominion.

Led by their councilor Leonard Oriaro, the villagers mobilized themselves and confronted the contingent of regular and administration police officers who were deployed to keep guard as Dominion moved in to reclaim their land using tractors to destroy their crops. The villagers had cultivated crops including maize, sugarcane, bananas, beans and kales covering more than 900 acres on the farm.
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Source: Nairobi Star

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