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Mombasa County wants Sh400m for Waitiki land rates

COAST
By Patrick Beja | January 5th 2016
Part of Waitiki Farm at Likoni in Mombasa.

The Mombasa County administration is now demanding Sh400 million in unpaid rates from the Waitiki farm.

The national government wants to settle thousands of squatters on the 930-acre parcel legally owned by Evanson Kamau Waitiki.

Monday, national government officials were busy preparing for issuance of title deeds to 11,381 beneficiaries at the controversial land by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week.

The county government announced that Mr Waitiki had not paid annual rates for the parcel on which squatters had encroached for 18 years following the 1997 Likoni clashes.

Waitiki has fought several legal battles with the squatters for ownership of the farm and won all of them.

But late last year, he agreed to surrender the land to the State for the settlement of the squatters for an unspecified amount of money.

In the past he had demanded Sh9.3 billion for the land.

Lengthy meetings

Officials from the national government, National Land Commission (NLC) and the county government engaged in lengthy meetings Monday as the latter asked to be paid an estimated Sh400 million in land rates from the farm accrued in 18 years.

Coast politicians, including Likoni MP Mwalimu Mwahima, visited State House Mombasa as tents were being erected at Shika Adabu in Likoni in preparation for the issuance of the titles.

The documents were processed at the National Titling Centre from December 21, last year, in a crash programme.

Uhuru was meant to issue the title deeds today but Presidential Project Co-ordinator Joseph Kanyiri said Monday the presidency was yet to confirm the date, but the function could take place this week.

"The work that we were assigned to do has been completed in readiness for the January 5 deadline, which is tomorrow. But this is not likely to take place because the Office of the President has not yet confirmed the date and we are waiting for that," said Mr Kanyiri.

President Kenyatta pledged to formally resettle the squatters on Waitiki farm during the 2013 electioneering period.

In 2014, Uhuru caused a political stir at the Coast when he distributed 60,000 title deeds to all six coastal counties in an attempt to address the perennial land question.

Meanwhile, Mombasa acting Lands Executive Anthony Njaramba Monday said although the county government fully backed the issuance of title deeds to Waitiki squatters, the devolved unit was yet to be assured by the State how the Sh400 million land rates from the 930-acre parcel would be settled.

"The land rates on Waitiki land had not been paid for 18 years and had accumulated to Sh400 million. We want an assurance that it would be settled. We have been in meetings with officials from the national government and NLC since morning but we are yet to arrive at a consensus," said Mr Njaramba.

The officials who included NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri and Director of Surveys Cesare Mbaria, were expected to meet again late Monday evening.

The county administration also raised concern over lack of physical beacons on the Waitiki farm, which it fears may trigger land conflicts among beneficiaries in future.

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