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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 21 July 2014

THE BURNING LAND POLITICS IN COAST REGION



Cord leader Raila Odinga last week revealed that land-grabbing is to blame for the ongoing violence in Lamu and other parts of the Coast region and has vowed to ensure that those who grabbed the land returned it.


What many failed to know is that the TJRC report and that of Draft National Land Policy dated June 2009 extensively addresses the land problem along the coast.
The report reveals the Ten-Mile Coastal strip which covers 1,128 parcels of land of over 80,000 hectares in Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Tana River and Lamu districts are government land.

According to the report, about 70,790 coastal families in Kwale, Kilifi and Malindi are now in settlement schemes on a 351,300.5 hectarage. The report further identified six categories of squatters namely indigenous, invading and trespassing squatters, squatters illegally allocated land but have paid money, professional squatters and tenants-at-will squatters.


The problem of absentee landlords remains a thorny issue in the Coast region. The report reveals that it is estimated that absentee landlords own over 77,753.02 hectares of land in Coast region and broken down as follows: - Mombasa district (301ha), Malindi district (234.17ha), Kwale district (75,982.4ha) and Kilifi district (1235.85 ha). Data for Tana River and Lamu districts are still being compiled.

In Msambweni district, the report reveals that controversial land matters are far from over mainly in Diani, Lunga Lunga and Kasemeni divisions. By 2002, 14,000 titles had remained uncollected.
In Mbughuni, the report reveals that the land was allocated to squatters in the 1990s but the allocation was nullified in 2007 by the then lands minister.
All is also not well at the Tumbe Settlement Scheme in Kwale which covers 135ha that is also identified as a squatter scheme but the matter is currently in court after some people claimed that the people who benefited from the allocations were mainly from outside the region.


At Gazi Swahili village settlement scheme, the heir of the Mazrui family was to relinquish his land to settle locals while at the Magaoni Scheme, over 680 letters of offer have been released however, and the acquisition of the land on which the scheme is established is not yet formalised.
The Ramisi Phase One Settlement Scheme, which is part of the old Ramisi land, it is roughly 42,000ha. The land was sub-divided into five-acre plot with half an acre for homesteads. They were allocated to existing squatters and those displaced by the Kwale International Sugar Company.

The Diani, Ukunda and Mrima Bwiti schemes have been registered while at Gonjora, 980 squatters were identified in the village of Gonjora, Dzibwage, Kibwanga, Fingirika, Nguluku, Maumba, Vumbu and Mwakoyo. These squatters according to the report have occupied the land for several decades even when Ramisi Sugar Factory was functioning and sugarcane was not grown on the land.

The area the squatters occupy is about 5,000 acres while part of the land which is about 2,000 acres was given to Tiomin for mining purposes. The report reveals that Kwale International Sugar Company was to lose about 7,000 acres which required compensation.

In Lamu district, the report reveals that most of the land in this district is government-owned though large portions have been given to private individuals as ranches. 

What is shocking is that in Lamu Island (Amu), most of the town lies in A land that is owned by one land-owner identified as Maawiya. The island mostly has the tenants-at-will and the majority of landlords have written tenancy agreements with them. Most farmers here are private except Wiyoni which is government-owned. 

Lamu has conventional schemes that were started around the 1970s; Kenyatta, Hindi and Magogoni. At the Faza Island in Lamu East, by 2008, about 488 families had benefited from the allocations. The village was given one allotment letter (block title). It is, however, important to note that in Lamu East, no survey or demarcation had previously been done on land occupied by indigenous people.

In Ngomeni (Magarini), it is a private land owned by the Department of defence and is currently occupied by squatters but DoD wants them moved out. The report says that some government land had been identified to be given to the families as alternative resettlement but they have refused.

They claim the alternative land is 20km away from the sea yet they are fishermen and again there were reports that they will not be welcome in the new area called Majenjeni.

In Kilifi district, which covers Kikambala, Bahari, Chonyi, Ganze, Vitengeni, Bamba and Kaloleni, most of the land is private-owned. While in Magarine Settlement Scheme in Malindi district, there is a mature project that began in the early 70s with the support of Canada and other European countries.