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Uproar over Joho plan for Waitiki land

Thursday April 21 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) issues a title deed to one of the beneficiaries of Waitiki land in Likoni on January 9, 2016 at Shikadabu ground. Also in Lamu on February 19, 2016, the county government issued 900 title deeds to Kizingitini residents. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) issues a title deed to one of the beneficiaries of Waitiki land in Likoni on January 9, 2016 at Shikadabu ground. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The county assembly’s decision to approve a Bill authorising Sh1.25 billion to pay for the Waitiki land was on Thursday greeted with fury.

A section of leaders and civil society warned that the county might be plunged into a financial crisis if such “wanton spending” was not checked.

They said it was needless to revisit the issue which President Uhuru Kenyatta had already settled in January by issuing title deeds following negotiations with Mr Evanson Waitiki, the previous owner of the farm.

The land is dotted with houses and flats, with some of the units valued at over Sh10 million each meaning the occupiers are not as poor as they were portrayed.

As part of the settlement deal, the squatters are supposed to pay the Settlement Trust Fund Sh182,000 each within 12 years.

The Bill proposed payment of the money in instalments of Sh5 million per month for 23 years.


But Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima argued that some of the occupants had already cleared the required fees while others were paying in instalments.

“Some have even brought me the receipts as proof of payment,” he said accusing the governor of using the Waitiki issue for political mileage.

According to his Nyali counterpart, Mr Hezron Awiti, the allocation was not only ill-advised but also an attempt to hoodwink residents. “The county government should stop this madness because the county will be plunged into a serious financial mess,” the MP said.

Taita Council of Elders Secretary-General Peter Mambembe asked Governor Hassan Joho to “stop playing cheap politics” and address other pertinent problems facing the residents “instead of trying to compete with the President”.

But, the assembly’s finance committee chairman, Mr Mohamed Hatimy, defended the House, saying they had only played their role and what was left was for the executive to implement it. It beat logic, said Juhudi human rights group executive Simon Katee, to commit such a colossal amount of money to the cause “without public participation or auditing the occupiers”.

The county government was accused of misplaced priorities. “There are people living in slums who could use this money rather than wasting it on those able to foot their bills,” said Mr Sebastian Menza, who is in charge of the land rates at Haki Yetu Organisation.