Land report calls for political goodwill

By Patrick Beja

Mombasa, Kenya:  A report on land injustices at the Coast is calling for political goodwill to tackle the emotive issue.

The report says inheritance of colonial laws, lack of land policies at independence and poor leadership made land at the coast a sticky issue.

“Attempts to correct these injustices have more often than not failed mainly due to corruption, lack of political goodwill as well as complex legal frameworks,” says the report by Haki Yetu, a human rights organisation under the Mombasa Catholic Church, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The report titled Entitlement Without Titles: A Quest for Land Justice, the research covers controversial land dispute areas at Tudor, Dunga Unuse, Kibarani, Kwa Punda and Maganda in Mombasa, Takaungu and Shariani in Kilifi and Kinondo, Magaoni and Msambweni in Kwale counties.

 Launching the report in Mombasa, the chairman of the National Land Commission (NLC) Dr Mohamed Swazuri said the team would immediately address the land problem through alternative dispute resolution legislation and asked squatters facing eviction to alert the commission.

Mombasa county senator Hassan Omar and Haki Yetu director Father Gabriel Dolan were present.

Haki Yetu programme officer Mr Peter Kazungu who conducted the research said the Land Titles Ordinance of 1908 contributed to the squatter problem as it required residents within the Coastal Strip to register their land so as to be issued with titles but many failed to do so.

It recommends full support to the NLC by both the national and county governments to enable it address the complex land problems particularly at the Coast.

It also calls on the Government to set aside 10 per cent of its budget for the next ten years for the resolution of all land problems in the country.

Implement land laws

It also recommended a State-facilitated arbitration between titleholders and unregistered land users to protect the rights of all parties.

The report further calls for immediate implementation of land laws to address historical injustices on land.

“The new political leaders under the devolved system of governance should show leadership by prioritising the resolution of land injustices in their respective counties,” it reads in part.

It called for the hastening of the drafting of the Eviction and Settlement law to ensure that evictions are carried out in accordance with internationally acceptable standards.

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Land Mombasa