More than 6,000 residents from Gede-Mitangani at Ganze sub-county in Kilifi County are set to benefit from owning at least 350-Hectare land registered as community land amidst escalated land wrangles in the region.
Led by the Kilifi County Government department of lands, the communities consisting mainly of Watha, Duruma and Giriama converged at Ndarako center to elect community land management committee that will oversee matters of the land.
For over 50 years, the land has centered rampant disputes between the residents and investors due to lack of supporting documents of ownership.
Addressing the locals at Mitangani in Ganze sub-county, Kilifi County Chief Officer for Land and Housing Dr.James Nguzo, said Gede Mitangani land becomes the first to be registered as a community land in Kenya.
Nguzo said that the intensive process of registering the community land will replicate in other ten regions in Ganze which have not yet been registered.
He said the elected cabinet will work together with his department to ensure that the residents receive community land title deed that would subsequently enable them to distribute the land amongst themselves in order to obtain individual title deeds as they wish.
“The committee you have elected and brought to us is the one that will work together with the Community lands Registrar’s office to lead you in matters of development of this land according to your will”, Nguzo said.
“All you need to do right now is to safeguard this land because according to our records, it is yours, not private”, he added.
Nguzo also educated the locals vividly on the in-depth process of obtaining a community land title deed through land clinics.
Speaking to locals during community land management committee elections at Mitangani, Ganze sub-county Deputy County Commissioner Louis Rono said the Community land registration marks the beginning of the solutions to land disputes in the region.
He said many cases of elderly Killings experienced in the region result from land wrangles among families and residents.
He added that if residents own the community land legally, they will be able to deal directly with investors and fend off land grabbers who have used their lands for selfish gains over years.
“I believe that this will now end elderly killings in this region. As for those who have used your rightful lands to siphon money from investors, it is unfortunate for them because this land will now be yours legally”, Rono said.
In an exclusive interview with the media, the residents expressed their joy of having their land registered hoping to spur developments in the region.
William Abaguna Akani from the Watha Community said the community has been demeaned for lacking land entitlement while lagging behind in economy.
“We have been squatters for over 57 years. We have a vast land due to lack of title deeds and used by other people who deny us the right to enjoy our property”, Abaguna said.
Juma Kitsao Pendo said Investors have paid millions of money to the wrong people just because they didn’t have ownership to the land.
“I feel like we have just gained our independence once again. We don’t live like other Kenyans because we don’t have a voice to defend our property. On the day of receiving the title deed to this community land, we will invite everyone to come celebrate with us. I am so happy”, Kitsao said.
He urged the county government to continue with the exercise so that they can enjoy their constitutional rights like other Kenyans.
Kenga Chengo Charo, also a resident at Mitangani said the land attracts many investors but the communities in the region have never benefited from it.
He urged the government to let elected officials from the region do their work without any form of corruption.
“Kenya gained independence long ago but nevertheless we have been land squatters since then. We urge the county and the national government to walk with us to the last stage of obtaining the title deed because this land has a high value”, Chengo said
“We are glad because at least our children will go to school after going through a lot of financial problems in our lives due to lack of land ownership. As women, we will be able to start and run businesses through savings and loans”, Hadiwa Abajila, a resident from Watha community added.
The Gede Mitangani land registration process saw officials from the National Lands Commission also participate.