The government of Kenya lacks political goodwill to resolve land cases and settle squatters especially in the Coast region, a lobby group has said.

Mr. Raphael Mzungu Ngoma, a director with the Institute of Participatory Development-Kulamusana (IPDK) said that the land laws as they are were being misused by politicians for their own selfish ends and not to end land problems.

He said these during a land clinic organized by IDPK and the National Land Commission (NLC) at Mere village where residents who have accepted their squatter status want the government to help them identify the owner of the land they reside on.

“The land issue has always been used by politicians to score their points but it has never been resolved and this means there is no political good will in government to end the matter,” he said.

His call comes at a time politicians in the area are dangling the land issue to voters to buy their support to office only to forget about it after the election.

He added that the legislation on land should be reviewed to conform to reality if the land issues were to be tackled to their conclusion.

“The land laws were made by colonizers and they need to be relooked at because what were the colonizers thinking when they came up with such legislation that put the age of a title deed at 99 years or 999 years,” he paused.

Mzungu said that the law should be amended to reduce the duration of lease-holding as well as revoke freehold land titles belonging to present and absent foreigners, claiming they were the main contributors to the nagging squatter menace in the region.

He added that the freeholding and the 99- and 999-year leases issued to foreigners during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, especially along the ten-mile strip, had led to many locals squatting on land belonging to absentee landlords.

Residents of Mere have also called on the government to hasten the search process at the land registries.

An official from the Kilifi County Department of Lands, who cannot be named as they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the county government, conceded that it was difficult to conduct the searches to retrieve manual records stored in a strong room at the Mombasa land registry.

“Since the records date back to more than 100 years, it is not very easy to retrieve them, especially those that do not have CR numbers,” the official said.

Wilfred Mwamure said that the residents had been frustrated by the delay in getting searches and urged the government to speed up the process so they could know their fate.

He added that they were eager to know the owners of the land with a view to negotiating with the land owners with a view to enabling the squatters to own the land.

“After we identify the genuine owners of the land, we shall have the ability to negotiate with them and even ask the government to buy the land and settle us,” he said.

He added that residents had suffered historical land injustice since the foreigners occupiers found locals on the land and called for speedy resolution of the injustices so that the residents can proudly own land and shed the tag of being squatters.

Mrs. Esther Charo, who said her family had occupied the land for more than 120 years and wondered why it had taken more than six months to conduct a search and asked the Ministry of Lands and the NLC to expedite the same

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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