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Leaders ask government to fast track settlement of squatters

A section of leaders in Mwea Sub-county, Embu have petitioned the Government to fast track issuance of title deeds for the adjudicated sections of Karaba, Riakanau and Makima areas.

They said since the land which was part of the Crown Lands was adjudicated 40 years ago, the target beneficiaries have been living as squatters with no ownership documents of their allotted portions.

Former Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi said the government processed many titles in 2012 and 2013 for the three settlement sections, but are yet to release them to owners up to date.

Musyimi said there were plans to commence issuance of the title deeds in December last year, but that did not happen after a group of Ngome Council of Elders from Mbeere Sub-county moved to court to block the move claiming the land was initially theirs.

Following a successful petition, the Environment and Land Court in Embu issued a temporary injunction stopping issuance of the titles pending hearing and determination of the suit.

Another issue that cropped up in the suit was the recognition of individuals who settled on unoccupied adjudicated lands popularly known as Matangi since late 1970s and who are claiming titles on account of the period of occupancy.

Speaking during a meeting with Riakanau Sub-location residents on Tuesday, Musyimi who was once Lands and Natural Resources Committee chair in the National Assembly said it was unfair to withhold titles that were not in dispute.

“Why should Matangi subject stand in the way of people who do not have an issue with their titles,” the former MP quizzed, noting that no law should be used to deny people their basic rights.

Former Embu County Council Chairman Andrew Musakwa said the land was given to different tribes living in the area by former President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1975 through a presidential decree.

He thus said that no individual, clan or tribe should claim to be the legitimate owners of the parcels of lands given to squatters by the government.

The leaders threatened to rally residents in storming lands offices in Kiritiri Town to collect the titles that have been lying there and issue them to their rightful owners.

“On 1st August, we will hold peaceful demonstrations and march to Kiritiri Land offices to pick our titles,” said Mwea Ward MCA Job Itumo while speaking during a public participation forum on County Integrated Development Program (CIDP) at Karaba market.

Governor Cecily Mbarire promised to look into the issue with a view of bringing the matter to rest once and for all so that locals can have a sense of belonging.

“I will go out of my way and do everything possible to make sure all those adjudicated lands are titled,” she said while also pledging to also help resolve the disputed Mwea Settlement Scheme.

By Samuel Waititu

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