The National Land Commission (NLC) has announced that it will revoke 117 title deeds in the Shella-Kipungani water catchment in Lamu County as most of the land in the area may have been acquired under dubious circumstances.
Speaking in Lamu island after a tribunal review hearing, NLC Vice Chairperson Abigail Mukolwe said most title deeds could be fake. "There are glaring inconsistencies in most title deeds and lease holds that the commission has reviewed. Some of the title deeds appear forged," Ms Mukolwe said.
NLC conducted a three-day review of grants and disposition claims over the protected catchment area, which is Lamu island's only fresh water catchment area. The review was triggered by a complaint raised by the Water Resource Management Authority that some individuals may have encroached on the protected area and put at risk thousands of residents who depend on the fresh water that comes from the aquifer within the area.
"It is coming out clearly that there are anomalies as to how most of the land owners acquired their title deeds," she said. Some of the title deeds had the wrong font and no signature of approval from the land registrar, while some land owners came with certificates of titles without the actual title deed.
Mukolwe added that some title deeds did not even appear in the lands registry and that NLC is likely to revoke the titles even before the 14-days grace period set to present submissions in response to the queries raised over the anomalies.
"The urgency to ascertain validity of the claims cannot be understated, since the area is the source from which Lamu island has 34 freshwater wells that are likely to dry up if there is inaction," Water Resource Management Authority CEO Mohammed Shurie said.