Lamu squatters call for faster land adjudication

Some of the squatters living at Bula-Rahma area in Mokowe,Lamu west during a past protest over eviction notices PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu,KENYA:Squatters in Lamu county are calling on the county government and the National Lands Commission-NLC to speed up land adjudication and issuance of title deeds so as to save them the agony they go through at the hands of moneyed tycoons.

Lamu has a high number of squatters many of which are concentrated in Hindi,Mokowe,Kwasasi,Lamu and Mpeketoni.

The areas have also recorded the highest cases of land grabbing and illegal evictions that have rendered many squatters.

Those whose lands border the mega national project sites like the Sh.2.5 Trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor-LAPSSET in Kililana,the Sh.200 Billion proposed coal plant In Hindi area and the Sh.21 Wind project in Baharini have seen a an increase in the number of tycoons who lay claim over their lands while armed with fake title deeds.

Many of these land owners have either been systematically pushed out of their lands or have been forcefully ejected by these tycoons.

Many others live in constant fear that their lands could one day be grabbed from right under their noses by these moneyed individuals.

They are calling on the NLC to speed up issuance of title deeds which they say will enable them viciously defend their lands from grabbers.

Mohamed Omar who was forcefully evicted from his father’s land after a tycoon turned up with a title deed and a court order says there is nothing many of them can do as long as the lands remain without title deeds.

“You wake up one morning and someone comes to your door and flashes a court order telling you to leave your own land and that it now belongs to someone else and they have a title deed to show,what can you do.You know very well its lie,but you have nothing to defend yourself with and that’s how many of us have ended up as squatters here.We appeal to the NLC to speed up and issue title deeds,”said Omar.

This comes at a time when the county government of Lamu has launchd a land survey exercise for among other areasWitu, Kiongwe Mjini, Baharini, Mokowe, Hindi, Pate, Myabogi, Kiunga and Mwambore.

Lamu governor Fahim Twaha says his administration recognizes the plight of squatters and that the exercise is meant to ensure they are resettled and accorded title deeds.

Twaha says at least 5000 title deeds will be issued to squatters in the next one year.

He says another 20,000 squatters will be resettled in the next four years.

“We understand the plight of squatters and we know the solution lies with proper land adjudication that includes issuance of title deeds and that’s exactly what we are working on.We wish to resettle as many as we can,”said Twaha.

Last month,the county government of Lamu launched a Sh.5 Million land survey exercise for all villages in Pate island in Lamu East.

Most lands in Lamu County haven’t been demarcated nor allocated title deeds making the region susceptible to increased land squabbles and conflicts.

A total of 700 land titles will be issued to locals at the end of the exercise.

Twaha acknowledged that the lack of title deeds was also a major cause for increased land squabbles in the region.

He said the county government was committed to ensuring security of lands in the region by arming land owners with title deeds so as to enable them secure their lands from land grabbers and that they are working closely with the NLC so as to speed up issuance of title deeds to all land owners in the entire county.