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Kisii county risks losing Sh34m in land row

Wednesday July 22 2020
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An aerial view of Kisii town. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Ruth Mbula

Kisii taxpayers stand to lose Sh34 million through a land purchase made by the county government, which is now a subject of a vicious ownership dispute.

The 20-acre piece of land in Kitutu Chache South constituency was meant for a dumpsite and a public cemetery.

Trouble started after the county attempted to hive off 13 acres of the 20-acres land for purposes of setting up a public cemetery.

This was in line with a requirement by the national government that adequate space be set aside for public cemeteries in preparation of a possible surge of deaths from the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

But the alleged land owners have effused to vacate, following a domestic dispute over its ownership.

It is not clear how and why the county government would spend such huge amounts of taxpayers money on a purchase without paying due diligence.

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Last week, officials from the National Multi-Agency Covid-19 Command Centre visited Kisii to assess the county government’s preparedness in case of anticipated mass deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The county government officials informed the national committee that the county had set aside 13-acres of land in Nyatieko for cemetery purposes.

Kisii Lands Registrar Steve Mokaya told the Nation that at the centre of the controversy are two men.

"We went there for a field visit on July 16, 2020 and we established that parcel 557 which the one of them claims to own is non-existent," said Mr Mokaya.

Official reports from the ministry of land indicate that details obtained from Survey of Kenya (Adjudication Section), Parcel 557 has null acreage while parcel 558 is well defined with acreage of 21 acres.

Although Mr Mokaya appeared to absolve the county government from any wrong doing, all indications are that there is trouble on the ground over the land ownership.

“The presence of two maps in this office capturing the same numbers amounts to number duplications and an indication of an error which requires to be corrected urgently to adopt boundaries as captured in the original maps using aerial photos and original area lists,” said Mokaya, without clarifying why there should be two maps bearing two separate titles on one property.

The cemetery land dispute is just one of the any cases of land ownership wrangles in Kisii where double allocation, overlapping, forged title deeds among other issues reigns supreme.

Due to population pressure, Kisii faces serious land shortage for expansion of the existing public installations. There is no space for a cemetery.

The public cemetery at Nyambera grounds got filled years back, and the graves were destroyed by land grabbers who took over the space for private buildings.

Records from the National Land Commission indicate that Nyambera cemetery was invaded by land grabbers who put up a block of flats despite the existence of graves.

The site was one of the 600 parcels of public land which have exchanged hands fraudulently in Kisii town alone.

NLC had vowed to repossess the said parcels, but three years after the damning report was released, nothing much has happened.

The Nyambera Cemetery was formerly land set aside by the defunct municipal council for recreation under the town’s 1971 development plan.

It is located opposite Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital Mortuary.

Another small cemetery near Masosa petrol station, which had graves from the colonial period was grabbed years back, skeletons were excavated and thrown away before private developers put up a garage and other private installations.


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