The government has warned professional squatters in Kilifi County and across the country that they will be arrested and prosecuted.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala who was distributing more than 14,000 title deeds to Magarini residents at Bombi area said that it had been noted that a section of beneficiaries of government issued title deeds were selling them and invading other parcels of land as squatters.

Balala added that the government has opened a database where information of all beneficiaries of the title deed program are recorded to make it easy to identify cheats and professional squatters.

“I will walk all over Kilifi County to distribute the title deeds so that residents can be empowered and the documents should not bring problems to families. Don’t sell it because we have data of those we have given and if we find them as squatters elsewhere in future we will arrest and prosecute them,” he said.

He also said that the government has processed more than 6.5 million title deeds in ten years compared to 5 million from independence to 2013.

Mr. William Baya, a resident of Baricho expressed happiness after picking his title deed saying that he was now a free man.

“I will no longer be a squatter and I was very worried that a tycoon might come and claim my land but I am now very happy now to be a land owner,” he said.

The sentiments were echoed by Mrs. Immaculate Dama from Kisiki who said that there was now hope of ending the squatter problem in the area.

“We thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for recognizing us since we used to live in the mercy of land grabbers and tycoons who occasionally had been threatening to evict us,” she said.

Kilifi County land coordinator James Kamau urged residents to store the documents well noting that many people were not taking care of their title deeds.

“When you get the title deed please keep it well because it is your life, you can even buy a small box where you will keep it safe,” he said.

Kilifi County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka on his part cautioned against family problems arising from land since they had previously led to death especially of the elderly.

“Immediately you get your title deed, go and sit as a family and plan for your land because we don’t want to handle cases of people especially the elderly being killed because of land,” he said.

Former Magarini MP Harry Kombe stated that residents had the habit of selling their land immediately they got their title deeds and cited the Magarini settlement scheme where 50 percent of beneficiaries had already sold their land and remained landless.

“These title deeds are for eradicating the squatter problem and please don’t sell them because at the Magarini scheme that I helped some years back, 50 percent have been sold and people are again squatters,” he said.

Kilifi Governor aspirant and former Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for lands urged the government to continue buying land from willing large landowners to settle squatters.

“The government should continue buying land from large landowners and distribute it to squatters the way they have done with the Mazrui land, Kagaa and Kakanjuni parcels in Malindi, Kilifi North and Kilifi South Sub Counties so that in the next five years we will have dealt with the squatter problem,” he said.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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