Uhuru orders probe into land given to the powerful

Uhuru Coast leadersThe government will investigate how influential people allocated themselves large chunks of land at the Coast.

Reacting to claims by Lamu residents that land in the area and other parts of Coast region was illegally allocated to influential people in the previous government, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu to investigate the allegations. Mrs Ngilu’s docket includes land and housing.

The President also put on notice Lands officials who were involved in the land-grabbing scheme that their days are numbered.

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“Those Lands officials that use their powers to ask for “something small” to serve Kenyans should desist or else they will go home,” said Kenyatta.

He warned that his government would not tolerate cases of ordinary people being dispossessed of theirland.

“This story of people coming here and dishing out landanyhow should be forgotten, mambo ya ukora tuwache (trickery should stop), those who are interested in land should use the right channel,” said Kenyatta.

Speaking at Kongole grounds before issuing 2,000 title deeds to the residents of Pate is land, the President said the titles he was issuing had gathered dust in the Lands offices.

Move faulted

Some leaders in the region had previously threatened to oppose the issuance of the titles because the government had not consulted them. They had also demanded that the National Lands Commission be involved in the process.

President Kenyatta regretted that the issue of squatters seeking title deeds had lingered on for 50 years without being addressed.

“During the campaigns we had requested the residents to give us votes so that we can solve land issue and that is what we will continue doing,” said Kenyatta.

He said the Jubilee leadership knew during the campaigning period that land was a factor of production that is very beneficial to Kenyans.

“There is no way you can fight poverty without enabling people to own land. We must solve the landproblem so as to unlock the land issue, and we are determined to do just that,” said the President.

He asked the beneficiaries to utilise the title deeds by either acquiring loans to build commercial structures, tilling their land, farming or starting businesses by using the land papers as collateral.

“The land for the 60,000 title deeds we have given you is worth more than Sh20 billion in value. You need to take the titles seriously, let’s use this value to benefit us,” he urged.

Kibaki’s promise

He said title deeds are free of charge and no government officer should purport to charge them anything.

“When I appointed Ngilu as Cabinet Secretary, I asked her to prioritise issuance of title deeds to Kenyans and especially to those in the Coast because they have suffered for many years as they do not own the landthey live in,” said President Kenyatta.

However, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has faulted the move, saying the function of issuing of landtitle deeds should be left to the National Lands Commission.

He said the President should have used the occasion to allow the commission to begin its job of identifyingland that was taken away from the people at the Coast and return it to rightful owners.

“The issue of land is bigger than mere issuing of title deeds and so the government should take land reforms seriously and not just make it a public relations exercise.

He was speaking at the home coming party of Butere MP Andrew Toloso yesterday afternoon.

The President has been in the Coast region for three days, together with his deputy William Ruto, where they distributed title deeds to squatters in Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties.

On Friday, the President presented 22,000 title deeds to residents of Kilifi and Mombasa and pledged to resolve the land problem.

Yesterday, Kenyatta told the residents of Lamu he was ready to fulfill former President Kibaki’s promise of training 1,000 youth in the county so as to get jobs in the LAPPSET project. He said the government had allocated Sh20 million for this purpose.

“You need to make sure that you liaise with the Lamu project officials so that the locals benefit from the opportunities,” said Kenyatta.

He said Sh200 million would be allocated to the county to build a decent hospital.

Revoking titles

He also promised to reconstitute the LAPPSET board to include a representative from the county to champion their issues.

Addressing the gathering, Deputy President Ruto saidland allocation in Lamu done three years ago should be reviewed.

“It is not possible to have less that 100 people allocated one million acres while the residents were only given titles of an acre or slightly more…this is something that should be condemned and rectified,” said Ruto.

He urged the Lamu people to embrace education and asked the county leadership to increase the number of secondary schools.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy said Provincial Administration officials — who are still apportioning individuals land at a fee — perpetuate illegal allocation of land.

“Some chiefs and the district officers continue to distribute land to outsiders regardless of the fact that there are real owners of the land,” said Timamy.

He also accused some senior government officials of grabbing land around the proposed Lamu port and asked the national government to consider revoking the titles.-standardmedia.co.ke

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