No respite for the landless as disputes plague Coast region
The land issue in the Coast region recurs like a bad
dream after every election season, when the political noise that gives locals,
false hope dies down and the landless are once again left to their own devices.
After politicians retreat to enjoy the spoils of war
after winning elections and inciting locals to invade private land under the
guise of ancestral property, the owners always come out to reclaim their plots.
The Methodist Church of Kenya has come out in Mombasa
to reclaim its 210 acres in Ganahola, Jomvu Constituency, where over 1,000
families have refused to leave, claiming it is their ancestral land.
Squatters, according to the church, began invading its
property more than three decades ago. Bishop Joshua M’Ikiao, who leads the
church in Mombasa and Kwale counties, stated that the property had been nearly
completely occupied by invaders by the year 2000.
said: “This is church land; it was brought in 1888 for around 3,500 British
pounds by missionaries. But people began to invade the land leaving a few
parcels, especially in the hilly areas.”
cleric told Nation the church had challenges securing its property due to its
want a solution. If we can agree with the government, a valuer can come to
estimate a price so that we can sell it to the state to formally settle the
squatters. During campaigns, politicians were inciting locals to stay put,” he
said. “They were using the land as a political tool.”
However, some occupants, such as Mr Samuel Kirambo,
claim they paid between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000 for a 50-foot-by-100-foot plot
for which no title deeds or “any ownership documents” were issued.
I’m now living in fear after the church came out to claim it. Who’ll refund me
my money? The government should address this thorny issue,” he asked.
Temporary structures and makeshift tents dot the land
in Lamu Island’s Hidabo area. The scene could be mistaken for an IDP camp, but
the residents are squatters who have encroached on government property.
The county commissioners’ official residence is
located in the area, and the governor’s house will be built there. There are
also offices of the Public Works Department and other county and national
government buildings here.
Following renewed invasions of government land in the
region, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia has issued a warning to
land-grabbers and encroachers.
people are very daring. You can imagine an individual encroaching on my
residential plot, the government’s land,” Mr Macharia said.
Timamy urged authorities to arrest and prosecute grabbers of government land.