Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja.

The future of a proposed Diaspora University in TaitaTaveta County looks uncertain after Governor Granton Samboja dismissed the project as an elaborate con-game by fraudsters whose only desire was to acquire land from the county.

Speaking in Wundanyi on Sunday, Governor Samboja said the project had a lot of questions that the initiators were unwilling to answer.

He said aspects of financing, land utilisation and project viability had not been handled adequately to allow the project to be allocated over 1, 000 acres of land its officials were requesting.

He dismissed a petition with signatures purportedly signed by the locals urging him to allocate land for the project.

“These people are using jobless young people to push for their selfish agenda. I will not even waste time considering that report they sent to me,” he stated.

The Diaspora University project has been in the offing since 2012 but had been dogged by controversy since its inception.

Initiated by Bishop Donald Kisaka, who unsuccessfully vied for the senatorial post in the region, the project envisages to construct a modern university valued at Ksh 100 billion.

The project will involve private-financing by investors who will put up housing units in land acquired by the university.

The ambitious project also plans to have its own town which will host industries, medical institutions, ICT and biotechnology parks.

Governor Samboja however said the project was too much caught up in confusion and secrecy to allow the public to make up their minds. He wondered why the need for such massive tracts of land yet there was no justification.

“Besides, why need 1, 000 acres for a five-year lease programme? Will you have constructed the facilities and have it running within five years?” he posed.

Even as the governor dismissed the project, it emerged that one of the local officials pushing for the project was almost lynched by irate members of public after he was accused of intimidating villagers to sign a consent allowing the facility to be constructed.

The official was allegedly going round at night forcing the villagers to sign the petition. He was rescued by the police.

Already, the University officials say they have acquired 1, 500 acres near Mto Mwagodi area in Mwatate and required 1, 500 more which they are in the process of acquiring.

In 2016, the County Assembly passed a bill that allowed the project to take off.

Mwatate Deputy County Commissioner Kennedy Muriungi said a meeting has been planned for Monday between the officials and the residents to establish the authenticity of the project.

“The officials and the residents will have candid talk that will shed light on all these issues,” he said.

According to the university’s brochures, the project will create 20, 000 jobs by 2021. Out of these, 2, 000 jobs will be taken over by professionals in diaspora.

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