Religious leaders urge Government to resolve land disputes to avert conflicts

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The  Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Arch-Bishop, Jackson Ole Sapit and African Gospel Churches (AGC) presiding Bishop Dr. Robert Langat follow a meeting organized by National Cohesion and Integration Commission at a Narok Hotel. Photo by Ann Salaton/KNA.
Some of the leaders keenly follow proceedings during a meeting organized by NCIC in a local hotel in Narok. Photo by KNA.

Religious leaders have called on the National Government to resolve land-related disputes in Narok before the next general elections to avert violence.

Led by the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Arch-Bishop, Jackson Ole Sapit they said land has been identified as the key cause of recurring on and off skirmishes in part of the county warning if nothing was done, it would lead to more bloodshed.

Some of the existing land disputes include lack of legal land ownership documents, incidents of double title deeds for the same piece of land and boundary disputes between the group ranches.

Among the areas that have experienced land related skirmishes this year, include Nkararo area in Trans Mara West Sub County, Olposimoru area that borders Maasai Mau forest in Narok North Sub County and Olorwaasi area in Narok South Sub County.

The clashes that involved the Kipsigis and Maasai communities left 12 people dead, dozens nursing injuries while tens of houses were burnt down in different scenarios this year.

“Most politicians use land as an entry point for agitation to deceive the people and in turn cause chaos. That is why we are urging the government to resolve all existing land disputes to avoid what we witnessed early this year,” said Bishop Sapit.

The leaders were speaking during a one-day leaders meeting organised by National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) held in a Narok hotel that brought together religious leaders, local administrators and village elders.

The archbishop lauded the government for restoring the Maasai Mau forest and called on residents to keep off from the forest, as it is a major water tower in the continent.

“I urge the government to put a fence on the cutline to make a clear distinction from the forest land as many politicians have been using the Maasai Mau Forest to entice the residents to elect them in office,” said Sapit.

The church leader called on the warring communities to put in place a conflict resolution mechanism to help in resolving their differences instead of battling over minor issues that can be settled in the village.

“If we resolve land related issues, then we will have resolved half of the conflicts in this county. Land is not growing but the population is growing. That is why we should resolve all land related issues before it is too late,” said Ole Sapit.

The  African Gospel Churches (AGC) presiding Bishop, Dr. Robert Langat urged the government to do what it takes to resolve the underlying land issues that politicians exploit for popularity.

The  NCIC Commissioner, Sam Kona reiterated the church leaders’ sentiments, saying the commission had camped in the troubled county for one month and one of the findings was that land was a major factor causing disagreements.

Commissioner Kona said the Commission will hold a major meeting with political leaders drawn from the clash-ton areas to sensitize them on the need to live at peace with each other.

However, while touring the troubled Nkararo area on the eve of Good Friday this year, the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, George Natembeya directed the Department of Land to issue title deeds to over 3,000 landowners who lacked the crucial document in a months’ time.

The process stalled after the outbreak of the novel Covid-19 pandemic that has seen many civil servants work from their homes.

By  Ann Salaton

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