Swazuri urges Waitiki land beneficiaries to collect titles

Monday February 8 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta issues title deed to one of the beneficiaries of the Waitiki land in Likoni on January 9, 2016 at Shikaadabu grounds. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta issues title deed to one of the beneficiaries of the Waitiki land in Likoni on January 9, 2016 at Shikaadabu grounds. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MWAKERA MWAJEFA
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Majority of Waitiki land beneficiaries are yet to collect their leasehold titles a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta moved in to regularise its ownership.

Only 1,400 out of the 5,007 squatters have collected the documents having paid a total of Sh700,000.

The rest of the certificates are still lying at the Land, Housing and Urban Development’s Bima Towers offices.

However, Land Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri have called on the beneficiaries to ignore what they termed falsehoods peddled by politicians to discredit the titles.

In a joint statement, the two said lack of awareness among occupiers on the difference between leasehold and freehold titles has complicated matters.

They said the titles are authentic and called on beneficiaries to ignore any other information to the contrary. “We wish to remind those who are yet to collect their leasehold titles to visit the ministry’s offices and pick them,” the statement said.

Those questioning the authenticity of the documents say locals should have been issued with freehold titles and not leaseholds, to assure them of ownership of the land.

They said the government does not issue freehold titles as land in urban centres is normally registered under leasehold to allow county governments to control development.

“In this regard, we wish to clarify that  Waitiki land was basically on leasehold and so, subsequent divisions would only qualify to be issued with leasehold titles,” the statement said.

On January 9 President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the exercise with some 7,807 certificates expected to be issued.

Leases for about 2,800 parcels have not been processed due to lack of adequate information on the beneficiaries, unresolved family disputes and failure by some occupants to present themselves for the titles.

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However, the ministry and NLC have embarked on Phase 3 of the regularisation where they plan to clarify all pending issues and issue the remaining titles.

“The government wishes to state Waitiki land was a private property owned by Mr Evanson Gidraph Kamau and Mrs Bertha Wanjiru Kamau who had genuine leases,” they said.

Prof Kaimenyi and Dr Swazuri said in 1997/1998, some persons illegally and forcefully invaded the land and started subdividing it amongst themselves.

In the interest of fostering peace and mutual coexistence, they noted, the government took the initiative to facilitate a settlement scheme by charging the occupiers a subsidised fee of Sh182,000.

To them, this is not too much bearing in mind that an acre of land  in the same area  without encumbrances is selling at Sh40 million.

The squatters’ spokesman  Fuad Abdalla said about 200  cases are yet to be resolved since the survey and adjudication was completed last December.

“Before issuance of the certificates by the President,  government officers had promised to come back to deal with these cases but as we speak now, we are yet to see them,” Mr Abdalla said.

On the issue of uncollected titles, Mr Abdalla wants the government to move the collection centre to either Likoni CDF offices or  Shika Adabu chief’s camp to make it easy for the people to access them.

He said some people were yet to  collect their titles because of the ‘falsehoods’ some politicians are spreading regarding the legality of the documents to gain political mileage.

“What the government should do is to visit the occupiers again and explain to them why they were issued with leasehold instead of freehold titles, to enable them  understand the difference,” Mr Abdalla added.