Thursday 24 January 2019
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Resolve Lamu land disputes to end our agony – squatters

Lamu squatters yesterday pleaded with the county government and the National Land Commission to hasten adjudication and issue title deeds to suffering residents. Most parcels have not been demarcated or allocated title deeds, making land disputes common. The squatters said they face agony at the hands of developers. Lamu has many squatters, especially in Hindi, Mokowe, Kwasasi, Lamu and Mpeketoni. The areas have recorded numerous disputes over landgrabs and illegal evictions. They accused developers of targeting their parcels bordering mega national project sites. These include the Sh2.5 trillion Lapsset in Kililana, the Sh200 billion proposed coal-powered electricity plant in Hindi and the Sh21 billion wind power project in Baharini. The grabbers present fake titles and court orders and eject genuine landowners, the residents said. They did not name names. They urged the National Land Commission to issue titles so they have a legal foundation on which to defend their property. Mohamed Omar said he was evicted from his father s land after one developer turned up with a title deed and a court order. He said there is nothing many of them can do as long as the parcels remain without titles. You wake up one morning and someone comes to your door and flashes a court order telling you to leave your land. They have a title deed to show. What can you do? Omar asked. You know very well it s a lie but have nothing with which to defend yourself. That s how many of us have ended up as squatters. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display( div-gpt-ad-1502866324572-0 ); }); The county administration says it intends to end the perennial outcries. It has launched a land survey covering Witu, Kiongwe Mjini, Baharini, Mokowe, Hindi, Pate, Myabogi, Kiunga and Mwambore, among other areas across the county. The residents welcomed the decision and urged the administration to expedite it. Governor Fahim Twaha said his administration recognises the plight of squatters and that the survey is meant to ensure they are resettled and awarded title deeds so they can live in peace. More than 5,000 title deeds will be issued in the next one year. Twaha said another 20,000 squatters will be resettled within the next four years. We know the solution lies with proper land adjudication that includes issuing title deeds. That s exactly what we are working on. We plan to resettle as many as we can, he said. On October 14, the county launched a Sh5 million survey of all villages on Pate island, Lamu East. About 700 title deeds will be issued at the end of the drive. Twaha said they are working closely with the NLC to fix the problems and called for patience. They will roll out the drive across the county to ensure a lasting solution.

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