Prominent personalities in former President Daniel Moi’s regime, who were allocated thousands of acres of land in Nandi County, have been told to surrender it for settlement of squatters.
County leaders led by Governor Stephen Sang, Senator Samson Cherargei and Tindiret MP Julius Melly said many residents are landless yet hundreds of parcels of land in the hands of the personalities remain unused.
"The land lies idle while landless squatters are languishing in abject poverty, Governor Sang said on Sunday in Tinderet where Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney gave some squatters title deeds.
The leaders said it would not be business as usual if the land is not surrendered to residents.
“Last week we sent our Lands Executive Stanley Bariach, Chief Officer Solomon Mangira and the county legal team to Nairobi, where they presented at memorandum to the National Land Commission (NLC) over the historical land injustices meted on our people,” Mr Sang said.
They are targeting land that was initially owned by the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) in Kimwani, but is now in the hands of the former officials.
They said once the prominent persons surrender the land, it will be subdivided and allocated to thousands of squatters among them those dubbed Nandi Returnees from Tanzania and Uganda.
"The Nandi community suffered many historical land injustices. NLC should speed up investigations and ensure locals are allocated the land instead of being squatters for more than 55 years after independence," Mr Cherargei said.
"I will table a motion in the Senate to discuss and debate the historical land injustices in Nandi, which the local community has suffered since the massacre of the Great Nandi Laibon in 1905 during the British Colonial rule."
The senator and Mr Meli alleged that the non-settlement of squatters is one of the causes of tribal clashes.
They said the former regimes sidelined the poor, who were allocated rocky land, while the prominent persons got fertile land. Ms Karoney said those with genuine title deeds will not be kicked out.
"The Ministry of Lands is not going to evict squatters and landless families who are being issued with title deeds," she said.
She noted that the controversy over the ownership of the land would be handled soberly to avoid causing tension among the communities.
She further asked those who have been given titles to use them to acquire loans for development.
“Consultations are ongoing within the government on how to balance and protect people and also conserve the environment,” she said.
Last month squatters living on the ADC land were ordered by the parastatal to vacate, but the county government dismissed the eviction notice.