The government has commenced an elaborate squatter resettlement programme in Kilifi County by identifying land in dispute and negotiating with land owners with a view to tackling the squatter menace in the area.
The Kilifi County Executive Committee Member for Lands, Mrs. Maureen Mwangovya, told journalists in Sabaki on Thursday that the national government would buy land belonging to the Mazrui family and other landlords to settle squatters.
Speaking at Kwa Ndomo area in Msabaha Ward of Magarini constituency after meeting occupants of disputed land in the area, Mrs. Mwangovya said the national government had already bought land belonging to the Mazrui family in Msabaha and another piece in Mikanjuni, Mtwapa, where squatters would be settled.
“We have started with the Mazrui land which extends from Mtwapa to Malindi and as of now the land in Msabaha has been bought by the national government and will be used to settle area residents,” she said.
“The land in Mikanjuni does not belong to the Mazrui family, but that has also been bought through the efforts of Governor Amason Kingi and Lands Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Gideon Mung’aro,” she added.
Mrs. Mwangovya urged the local county assembly to support the department in this endeavour with a view to reducing the numerous land disputes in the county.
On cases of absentee landlords, Mrs. Mwangovya said the county and national governments had been holding meetings to see how their lands could revert to the government so that people living in those areas could be resettled.
“We have identified many pieces of such land and put timelines which we shall ensure are followed so we can strategize on how the land can revert to the government with the aim of settling squatters living on them,” she said.
The CEC member at the same time said her department was planning to hold land clinics across the county to sensitize residents on the importance of owning land following reports that beneficiaries of settlement schemes were selling their land at throwaway prices.
“It is also important for people to know that it is not just a matter of owning land, but also to know the value of that land, and that is why as a department we have plans to hold land clinics in the entire county for people to know the value of their land,” she said.
“I urge our people not to sell their land at throwaway prices because land can be used as collateral for loans that can be used for development activities and emergencies,” she said.
She said her department had also received support from the Kenya Informal Sector Support Improvement Programme (KISSIP) which had assisted the residents of Sabaki and Malindi on a housing and land ownership programme.
Sabaki Member of County Assembly Edward Dele, who is also the chairman of the Kilifi County Assembly Committee on Land, said people who would buy land from beneficiaries of settlement schemes who have not been issued with title deeds would be doing so at their own risk.
He warned that residents who sell their land before acquiring the relevant documents could have their land ownership documents recalled by the government.
Kilifi County National Lands Commission (NLC) Coordinator Ummy Kugula said the commission would identify all the disputed lands within three months to enable the county and national governments to take action and solve the squatter menace.
“We shall in the next three months know what the disputes are so they can be solved for wananchi to be given the lands. If the lands are private, we shall ask the two governments to sit down with the landlords with a view to buying the lands for squatter resettlement.
By Emmanuel Masha