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Swazuri Gives A 90-Day Ultimatum To Over 2000 Public Land Grabbers In Kiambu To Vacate, Or Else…

Juja MP Francis Waititu (in white dotted shirt) takes NLC Chairman Prof. Mohammed Swazuri (in a suit and tie) round Juja Town to show him part of the over 10 acres that were grabbed forcing public utilities earmarked for the community to stall.

National Lands Commission (NLC) Chairman Prof. Mohammed Swazuri has given land grabbers in Kiambu County a up to 30th April 2017 to surrender all illegally acquired public land else the be forcefully evicted and their property brought down by the government under Section 155 of Land Act and Section 32 of Land Amendment law of 2016 that gives his commission power to revoke title deeds for land unlawfully acquired.

Addressing the residents of Thika and Juja when he toured public land suspected to have been converted into private ownership, Swazuri contended that the lands in question had originally been earmarked for public use but were illegally converted into private ownership and therefore the commission had no choice but to revoke these titles and revert the land back to the government.

“It is our responsibility to protect all public utilities and we have, without any reasonable doubt, ascertained that indeed all this land is in fact public land. As a commission, we have therefore revoked all these title deeds and repossessed back these parcels of land for their original use,” said Prof Swazuri.

A one week public forum organised by the NLC to probe massive irregular allocation of land in Kiambu County has started exposing shocking revelations of how land meant for public use ended up in the hands of private individuals.

The review at the Thika Town Hall Chambers, that began on Monday this week to go all through to Friday, is investigating about two thousand, one hundred and fourteen (2,014) parcels public land with over 200 of these cases affecting Thika Sub-County alone. Other areas heavily affected by this mass land grabbing menace include Juja and Ruiru.

Some of the land grabbed include the Kang’oki Dumpsite in Thika, land earmarked for building the Deputy County Commissioner’s office, a polytechnic, market, a public toilet, nursery and a road reserve all in Juja Town. Both Thika and Kiambu Towns had also lost land meant for government housing.

In Ruiru, land meant for primary and secondary schools, nursery, market, community and cultural and health centres, community library, playing fields and churches were among parcels that had ended up in private ownership.

Prof. Swazuri said the review will ensure all land meant for public was reverted back to the public.

“There is no way government can be evicted from its own land. We are giving all these individuals only three months to remove any structures they may have developed, failure to which we will take charge and demolish their buildings,” he explained.

Kiambu Governor William Kabogo appealed to NLC to ensure that all county government land meant for the construction of markets, health centres as well as government houses was reverted back to the public. He cautioned individuals currently sitting on public land not to invest or develop them as the law would soon catch up on them.

“As a county government, we have been experiencing a lot of challenges dealing with real estate development. I am appealing to banks and other financial institutions to always liaise with both the national and county governments to ascertain land ownership before funding any housing project,” said Kabogo.

Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu thanked Swazuri for his intervention adding that his constituents had suffered for years for lack of land to put up government offices. He called for the prosecution of all those who had a hand in aiding grabbing of public land in Juja.

“It is quite unfortunate that all government officers including my CDF offices and the provincial administration have to let spaces yet land meant for their development is lying pretty in individual ownership by those who acquired them illegally,” said Waititu.

Since Kenya’s independence, an estimated 200,000 land titles have been created through land grabbing. Land grabbing is a post-independence phenomenon that intensified in the 1980s and 1990s. The phenomenon has been driven by both external and domestic factors.

Land is an important asset for development and one of the factors of production. In the present day Kenya, high levels of impunity by corrupt powerful individuals and leaders are fully behind these cases of rampant land acquisition through illegal means.

This wanton illegal allocation of public land has adversely impacted the planning and administration in urban areas, giving rise to informal settlements.

It is good to note that the existing national laws protect the interests of land title deed holders. Our Constitution provides protection of property, including private property, against state expropriation without prompt payment of full or just compensation. According to the Registered Land Act, Cap 300, section 143 (1) and (2), the first registration of title deed cannot be revoked. The subsequent registration can only be revoked if proved that it was obtained through fraud or mistake.

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