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Anxiety as Waitiki squatters' verification process kicks off

COAST
By Mwangi Muraguri | December 5th 2015

Vetting of those to be allocated the 930-acre Waitiki Farm went on Friday amid anxiety on how many squatters would be given land.

To be considered for the allocation, squatters are required to provide their identity documents and demonstrate they have lived on the vast estate and built houses or business premises.

They must also demonstrate how they ended up on the disputed land.

Road reserves

The Ministry of Lands estimates that thousands of squatters live on 12,000 plots but there is growing fear that many, who have built houses on road reserves will not be considered for resettlement.

Deputy Director of Land Services Mwenda Mwenga said ten teams comprising surveyors, map experts, and geospatial experts and representatives from the local community will visit each of the plots.

“The 150-member team together with representatives of those living in the farm have formed 10 teams that will visit all the plots of land doing surveying, mapping, adjudication, identifying plot owners and confirming ownership,” said Mr Mwenga at Likoni Constituency Development Office Friday.

Only 720 acres will be mapped out in the exercise, which he said will take a month. The rest, about 210 acres, had already been sold off and owners issued with documents of ownership.

He said those whose claim on the parcel of land will be contested by the local committee will face a disputed resolution team comprising a representative from the Office of the President, officials from the Ministry of Lands, the local chief, sub chief and the locals.

During the vetting exercise, officials from the Ministry of Lands took the names of the locals who form the committees. The team will help to identify the authentic settlers.

The committee has started laying plans on how to execute the exercise which has several complicated facets. Mwenga said the 10 teams will move from plot to plot, surveying and capturing data of the locals, information which will help in the process of issuance of titles.

He further said a legal team from County Headquarters Building at Uhuru na Kazi will be on standby to help tackle any emerging legal challenges.

Legal hurdles

At the same time, Mwenga pointed out that the team will also liaise with the hitherto owner of the controversial land — Mr Waitiki —to iron out any arising legal bottlenecks.

“We anticipate contested claims of ownership to come up when we hit the ground running tomorrow (Saturday). We expect few challenges given another team had conducted an earlier demarcation,” said Mwenga.

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