By JOSEPH MASHA
Kilifi, Kenya: There was jubilation at the Karisa Maitha Grounds in Kilifi when President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked off the issuance of title deeds to squatters.
Uhuru issued 19,000 title deeds in Kilifi before moving to Khadija Grounds in Mombasa where he gave out about 3,000 titles.
President Uhuru has promised to issue a total of 60,000 title deeds across the six counties in the region. Today he will be in Lamu and Tana River counties for the same purpose and is expected to conclude the exercise in Taita Taveta and Kwale counties tomorrow and on Monday. Accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto and Cabinet secretaries, Charity Ngilu (Lands), Najib Balala (Mining) and Kazungu Kambi of Labour, the President kicked off the exercise after reaching an agreement on Wednesday with local leaders who were skeptical of Uhuru’s motives in a region where Jubilee lost to CORD in the March 4 polls.
The titles being issued are old and have been lying in land registries for decades. The land covered by the 60,000 title deeds is valued at Sh20 billion. He declared that apart from seeking to unlock Coast’s economic potential, the new titles are issued in fulfillment of Jubilee’s election manifesto. Uhuru praised Ngilu and Lands officials of preparing “what has been in store for long” and hailed Coast leaders for supporting the exercise. He said the title deeds that had stayed at the Lands registry since 1964 have been given to the squatters free of charge. The President said landlessness was among the many issues that were affecting Kenyans and said his government was prepared to issue about 3 million title deeds in five years’ time.