NLC begins review of Lamu sand dunes “grabbers” land tittles

Lamu Sand Dunes. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu,KENYA: Officials from the National Lands Commission-NLC led by chair Muhammad Swazuri and those of the Water Resources Management Authority-WRMA are currently in Lamu to review the over 100 land titles belonging to individuals said to have grabbed the Shella and Kipungani sand dunes with a view of revoking them.

The sand dunes at Shella and Kipungani are the only fresh water reservoirs serving over 10,000 residents of Lamu Island.

NLC and the water agency are working together to ensure all water towers in Lamu are conserved and protected.

In a recent newspaper advert,NLC published names of individuals required to appear before the commission on 1st and 2nd March with documents proving their ownership of the dunes and show cause why the parcels of land should not be revoked.

Swazuri had earlier on warned that the dunes being the only source of fresh water should not be interfered with and directed those who had grabbed and put up residential houses on the water catchment areas to leave voluntarily or be forced out.

Swazuri said the agency was working with the WARMA to ensure all water towers in Lamu are conserved.

The NLC chair explained that according to scientists, construction on sand dunes destroys the filters which separate the clean water from the salty ocean water, thus residents cannot access clean drinking water.

Lamu Island has been habited for almost 1, 000 years due to the availability of water but that is under threat since the only water catchment has been degraded by the grabbers who are putting up developments.

Several key figures including a gubernatorial aspirant and formers MP,MCAs,county executives and foreigners have been listed and are set to appear before the commission.

Most of those who appeared before the commission at the Lamu Fort on Wednesday did not have possess adequate documentation to prove the exact acreage and location of their lands on day one.

They  had to be sent back and ordered to supply the two commissions with sufficient documentation to that effect failure to which the NLC shall proceed and have their ownership revoked.

Lawyers who had also appeared to represent their clients before the commissions had to also be stopped midway in their presentations after it became clear that they did not have proper documentation and were also ordered to furnish the commission with the same on day two of the proceedings on March 2nd.

While leading the exercise,NLC deputy chair Abigail Mbagaya has also warned lawyers and the listed individuals against presenting fake documents after it emerged that most of the documents including allotment letters and certificates were issued without following due procedure.

There were also cases of fake signatures encountered on most of the documents seen by the commission.

“The purpose of this review of titles is to understand procedures followed in acquiring deeds for the land in question. We intend to carry out revocation if they don’t substantiate claim of ownership,” said Mbagaya.

Mbagaya questioned why most land owners had contradicting and doubtful land documentation.

“Its fishy to see the same person signing documents with different signatures.we shall hold those submitting such documents before this commission liable,”

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