Lands boss demands accountability of Sh1.2bn Waitiki fund use

Monday April 25 2016

National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri addresses residents at Manda Trading Centre on April 8, 2016. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri addresses residents at Manda Trading Centre on April 8, 2016. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By MWAKERA MWAJEFA
More by this Author

The National Land Commission (NLC) has asked for details on how Mombasa County intends to use Sh1.25 billion it put aside to pay land rates for Waitiki land owners, some of whom have already paid the full amount of Sh182,000 each.

NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri said 3,200 out of the 4,600 beneficiaries of the First Phase had already paid Sh582.4 million and collected their documents.

“At the close of business on Friday, 3,200 occupiers had already paid the amount and collected their certificates,” Mr Swazuri said at Thathini Development Company in Gandini, Kisauni, at the weekend.

Mr Swazuri’s statement is likely to put pressure on the County Assembly to explain how the devolved unit intends to use the Sh1.25 billion it approved through a motion by the Finance, Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Mohamed Hatimy.

The Assembly said it would pay the full amount for the 7,600 land owners at Sh5 million per month for 23 years.

The NLC boss said the commission had not received details from Lands Executive Anthony Njaramba on how the formula had been reached and how it was expected to work.

Contacted on Sunday, Mr Hatimy said the Assembly’s job was simply to approve the required amount by the Executive since concerns had been raised about the capability of the new owners to pay the land rates to the national government.

“Our work ended after approving the payments on April 14 from the Equalisation Fund; the rest remains with the Executive to deal with,” said Mr Hatimy, adding that a seven-member committee had been set up to oversee the disbursement of the payment.

One of the resolutions passed by the Assembly when it approved the Sh1.2 billion fund was the selection of Pamoja Trust to carry out a socioeconomic study of the occupiers to determine their financial ability before making payments.

When contacted over the issue, one of the trust officials, Mr Danson Maina, said they were not aware of the project and asked the Daily Nation to forward the Order Paper to them.

“You are telling us that we have been selected to carry out a study for what purposes?” he asked on phone.

When a copy of the order paper was sent to him, however, he declined to acknowledge receipt or answer phone calls.

Leaders have dismissed Governor Hassan Joho’s plan to pay the rates as a political gimmick to woo voters ahead of the 2017 General Election.