The government has issued 1,866 title deeds to squatters in disputed Nzalae ranch in Nguutani Ward, Mwingi West in Kitui County.
Speaking after presiding over the exercise at Nzalae playground, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu lauded the government saying that the squatters have been settled at the expansive piece of land for the last 50 years.
“Since early 1970s, these households have only known Nzalae as their ancestral homeland, but lack of legal documents and land rights to prove it has exposed them to numerous eviction threats, but I am pleased to declare them the rightful land owners,” said the governor.
She noted that her administration started the land adjudication process late last year in collaboration with the national lands Ministry to help the squatters acquire the vital documents.
“We thank President Uhuru Kenyatta and his administration for their invaluable support in making surveying, demarcation and titling of Nzalae plots a success. The locals can freely and confidently develop their land including walking into a bank and securing a loan using the title deeds to better their lives,” added Ngilu.
The residents could hardly hide their joy and relief after receiving the crucial documents after decades of agonizing wait.
Janet Kyalo, a resident at Nzalae, while speaking to KNA upon receiving her title deed, recalled how land cartels have in the past invaded their villages, burnt down their homes and attempted to evict them from Nzalae ranch.
“We have slept in the bushes countless times following numerous eviction attempts by powerful people laying claim on this land but we can now sleep soundly as the legal owners of the adjudicated plots,” Mrs. Kyalo rejoiced.
Another resident, Stephen Musembi, expressed his gratitude over the exercise, terming it a big step in curtailing the notorious land grabbers and justice to squatters.
Mr. Musembi applauded, “We have suffered a lot and for long in the hands of the land grabbers, but victory is finally ours. We have lived in distress for years but a time to rejoice has finally come.”
By Francis Mwendwa and Denson Mututo