Nubians fear State will not give them Kibera land title

Saturday June 13 2015

Lindi Usafi residents undertake joint GIS Mapping of the area, in Kibera in Nairobi. PHOTO | JOHN MBARIA

Lindi Usafi residents undertake joint GIS Mapping of the area, in Kibera in Nairobi. A fresh row between the Nubian community in Kibera and the government is in the offing as the NYS slum upgrading programme in Kibera heads to a close. PHOTO | JOHN MBARIA 

By VINCENT ACHUKA
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A fresh row between the Nubian community in Kibera and the government is in the offing as the NYS slum upgrading programme in Kibera heads to a close.

The programme, which was initially set to last three months when it was launched as a pilot in the slum in September last year, was extended for another six months in December which are supposed to end in two weeks.

This week, the more than 3,000 youth from the slum who have been saving 30 per cent of their weekly wages started receiving loans to start their own businesses. Consequently most of the projects like fish farms, ablution blocks, posho mills and sack gardens are already in operation.

The Nubian community is now afraid that the government has shelved plans to issue them a title for “their land” as it has already gained considerable political mileage in the opposition stronghold.
The Nubian Rights Forum (NRF), which has been fighting for the community’s right to land since 1997, has threatened to seek redress in court in order to stop future government projects in the area unless their land issues are resolved.

“We have agreed with our lawyers to seek orders from the court to force the National Lands Commission to issue us with our title,” said Mr Shaffi Ali, NRF chairperson.

He added: “We have had meetings with them and they always tell us that the titles are there but they don’t tell us why they are not issuing them. So we are worried that they are taking us for granted.”

ODM REJECTED PLAN

An attempt by the government to issue them with titles for 288 out of the 600 acres that make the slum in December 2013 failed at the last minute after ODM rejected the plan. The matter caused violent protests and the government shelved the plan.

The community claims it made a deal with the government that the matter was going to be sorted within a year after the initial one got aborted but sees the opposition party’s hand in stalling the matter.

“If you remember, the NLC’s creation was pushed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga during the Grand Coalition government and the commission has always been pro-ODM,” said Mr Ali.

He added: “Mr Mohammed Swazuri (NLC chair) is acting for ODM and it is no secret that Raila has always been treating the Nubians with contempt even when he was MP. When Uhuru was supposed to give us the titles the first time, ODM people protested. This was pushed by Raila.”

The NLC says it cannot give a time frame when the Nubians will get the titles because the process has stalled.

“Some issues arose and we are trying to bring the interested parties to the negotiating table, which we have been unable to so far,” said Mr Swazuri.

“So many things have happened and we have to retrace our steps and find out where it stalled,” he added.

The Area MP Kenneth Okoth (ODM) who opposed the matter saying that key stakeholders had not been consulted in 2013 when the government initially wanted to issue titles to the community has now switched sides and has accused the government of slowing down on the matter.

“The Nubians are not happy and the other communities don’t know if their issues will be taken care of if the Nubians get the title,” he said.