Lamu launches land survey to resettle Mashifta squatters

Lamu governor Fahim Twaha together with the Mashifta refugees PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu,KENYA:The county government has launched a land survey exercise which aims at settling squatters who were displaced from their homes during the Shifta war in the 1960s.

Targeted areas for the survey include Mwambore area on the Kiunga border of Lamu and Somalia, Mvundeni, Shanga-Rubu, Shanga-Ishakani and Mkononi.

The survey also targets most parts of Lamu East sub-county which was worst hit by the displacements from the Shifta war.

Addressing at least 1500 squatters at the Mokowe County Headquarters on Friday during the launch of the survey,Lamu governor Fahim Twaha noted that the squatters are involved in many land relayed squabbles which the county government intends to settle by resettling them.

Twaha said at least 5000 squatters are targeted in the exercise which will also see them issued with title deeds before the end of this year.

A total of 20,000 squatting families are expected to have been resettled in the next four years.

Twaha also asked those who were displaced from their lands during the Shifta war to go back and reclaim their lands adding that the county government would give them all the necessary support.

“So many people were displaced by the Shifta war and have been suffering since.What my administration seeks to do is to resettle these people.At the same time we are also encouraging them to go back and reclaim their lands and we shall ensure they get them.At the end of it all,we want all squatters to own title deeds in the next four years,”said Twaha.

He said the county government was also in talks with various ranch owners to acquire more parcels of land on which the more squatters will be resettled.

At least 5000 people have so far received title deeds for their lands in the last one and a half years.

Twaha said his administration was keen on ending landlessness and related conflicts that have marred the region since independence.

He said the thorny issue of land ownership and the ever growing number of squatters was a major cause of poverty among communities in Lamu.

“We have also initiated talks with owners of ranches in Lamu including Amu and Nairobi Ranches. We want to buy more lands in order to resettle our people. We want to ensure by the end of four years, at least 20,000 squatters are given land and title deeds. People need title deeds in order to develop their lands, economies and lives too,”said Twaha.

Lamu East MP Athman Sharif however called on the county government to ensure proper identification and verification of those who were affected to ensure fraudsters don’t benefit from program.

The MP also called on the county government to coordinate with the national government and come up with means of funding the displaced people so that they can go back to their lands to start new lives.