In another classic case of people who wasted a windfall, a man in Kirinyaga has come out to give his story.
70 year old Miano Kaminja was among 600 families in Rukenya village, Kirinyaga County who were compensated by the government for their land, to pave way for the Sh19 billion Rukenya Irrigation Dam 3 years ago.
The government spent a total of Sh5 billion, of which Mr. Kaminja received Sh7 million. His was one of the lowest payouts owing to the lack of substantial development on his 2.5 acre land.
True to the saying that money is the root of all evil, Mr. Kaminja chased away his wife and two sons immediately after the payout. They now live in Mwea.
Mr. Kaminja was now left alone to spend the money as he saw fit. Having sold his property to the government, his first course of action should have been to acquire another piece of land and establish a new home, right? Well, he didn’t see it that way.
The elderly man went on a spending spree and started living the millionaire life. He moved to a posh hotel in Kerugoya town and rented a room at Sh3,000 a day.
A millionaire also needs a car, so Mr. Kaminja bought one. Never mind he had never driven his whole life. He further made sure it was assigned the hotel owner’s parking slot.
He continued wasting his money in other ways, in the process making new ‘friends’ who assisted in the spending. One day when he realized the cash had started running low, Standard reports that “he rushed to the parking bay and ignited his car, accelerated to full throttle and crashed it into a concrete wall, sustaining serious injuries in the process and wrecking the vehicle.”
He was admitted at a nearby private hospital where he was discharged before time after realization that he could not afford to pay the medical bill.
Mr. Kaminja is now homeless and cashless. He keeps hopping from relative to relative seeking temporary overnight accommodation.
In his hands is a document he believes presents the key to his riches. Mr. Kaminja believes the National Irrigation Board owes him a staggering Sh64 million for the land.
This is based on information he received from ‘independent land valuers’, who told him that his land was grossly undervalued. However, it is believed these were just con artists out to get part of his initial payout.
Mr. Kaminja’s case is not unique. Many of those who received the huge payouts married more wives, bought cars they could not drive and basically changed their lifestyle. Some beneficiaries reportedly eloped with people’s wives to Mombasa and never returned.
Bar owners in nearby towns of Kianyaga, Kutus, Kerugoya, Embu and Murang’a got a huge share of the billions.
“They would come to my bar in groups of two or three, order all patrons out and ask me to count the bills incurred by those ordered out, then ask me to close the premises and ensure it was all theirs,” said Nancy Muthoni, a bar attendant in Kutus town. Ms Muthoni added that she has never in her life seen such lavish spending.
Many ended up selling their cars for throw-away prices to enable them to make ends meet.
Additional reporting by Standard Media