National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri

National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri

NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri explained this means the lease for the?land has not expired to warrant a renewal.

He, however, did not give details about how many years the lease for the expansive?land runs or when it will expire.

?As you know everybody whose lease has expired comes to make an application,? Dr Swazuri explained, adding that he did not have specific details about the Kenyatta?land in Taveta.

He was speaking at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa County yesterday, during public hearings for public?land grants in the county.

Swazuri was accompanied by his deputy Abigael Mbagaya, commissioners Rose Musyoka and Silas Mureithi Kinoti, Director of Communications Khalid Salim and Mombasa county Lands executive committee member Francis Thoya.

The Chairman said NLC has no conclusive list of absentee landlords at the Coast because many of them have been evasive.

He, however, announced that the commission would still make a ruling on the status of the land of which they claim ownership after they explain how they acquired it.

?It has been difficult to document the?landlords because some of them live outside the country,? he said.

?We faced similar challenges when we investigated?land allocations in Lamu last year but we still gave our verdict by revoking some allocations,? he added.

He concurred with Thoya that the Mombasa county government has presented more than 620 cases of controversial?land allocations it wants reviewed by NLC.

The NLC boss said most complaints during the public hearings included threats by?land developers to evict thousands of squatters, grabbing of fish?landing sites and riparian?land and road reserves.

Facing eviction

Squatters facing eviction include those from Thome in Miritini, Kwa Mwanzia, Bangladesh, Jutoni, Allidina, Kasarani, Vikobani, Mwamlai, Mirironi, Mangusi, Misufini, Kizurini, Kibarani, Mbogoni and Owino Uhuru in Jomvu Constituency.

The commission heard that hundreds of squatters are facing eviction from the Thome 20-acre?land as two private firms are claiming ownership of the prime?land located along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

It emerged that Bamboo Twist and Awale transporters were allegedly threatening to displace the squatters who insist it is their ancestral?land.

Sixty-five-year-old Stephen Katana, who represented the squatters, said he was surprised that the two companies were angling for the?land where he was born and raised.

?We are appealing for Government intervention to save our?land because we do not know when and how the two companies acquired the?land,? Katana said.

But a director of the Bamboo Twist, Kigo Ng?ang?a said the?land was sold to his company by a person identified as Samuel Charo Kazungu at Sh5 million.

He said his firm undertook to compensate squatters at a cost of Sh30 million, adding that the squatters were willing to move out and only Awale Transporters was holding back its plans of occupying the?land.

?We bought the?land on a willing-seller-willing-buyer basis. The squatters are willing to move out after we compensate them and we only have a problem with Awale,? Mr Ng?ang?a told the commission.

Awale Transporters were not represented at the public hearing.

But Mr Thoya said investigations by the county government have revealed that it was formerly public?land and appealed to the commission to review the allocations.

Blocked road

?The?land had been reserved by Government for future development. We suspect there was fraud in the allocation of the?land,? Thoya said.

He wondered why the?land that could fetch Sh60 million was acquired at only Sh5 million.

Hearing for the acquisition of part of Mombasa Primary School by private developers failed to take off after the defenders were reported to be outside the country.

Thoya said the dispute is similar to the Langata Road Primary School?land saga in Nairobi because the developers have occupied a large chunk of the plot, built houses and blocked an access road.

?The school community has been patient. It is a time bomb and needs to be addressed urgently,? he said.

Swazuri promised to give a ruling even if the defendants skip the next meeting, adding that some people who acquire?land through questionable means evade the commission?s public hearings.

?Land grabbers usually get ownership documents before moving to the ground and we gather all evidence before calling for public hearings,? Swazuri explained.

He defended NLC against accusations that it delayed in addressing the Langata saga because of fear, saying the commission was gathering crucial documents before making its verdict.

The commission is set to hold public hearings in Eldoret, Kisumu, Nairobi and Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties.

By Philip Mwakio, The Standard

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