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New Waitiki landowners express their joy, gratitude and concerns

COAST
By Patrick Beja | January 12th 2016

The future is looking bright for Waitiki farm squatters-turned land owners. Most are now happy that they will live in peace, free from fear that their structures will be demolished by Mr Evanson Waitiki, the original landowner.

Besides that, most hope that they will use their leases to borrow money from banks to improve their lives.

While displaying their leases in their homes on Sunday, a day after after President Uhuru Kenyatta handed the documents to them, the new landowners, however, asked the national and county governments to consider lowering the Sh182,000 that they were ordered to pay, saying a majority of them are poor and will not be able to raise the amount.

Omar Mohamed Omar, a resident of Mrima village on the Waitiki farm, said the titles have opened a new chapter for them. He said he could now develop his plot without fear after getting the certificate of lease for 99 years. According to the documents, Mombasa County Government is the lessor.

"We have struggled for more than 10 years over the Waitiki land. We were prosecuted for trespass and pursued several land cases but now we have documents that can aid us get loans," Mr Omar said who was issued with a plot measuring 0.0256 hectares.

However, he cannot secure a loan with the document yet as he is required to clear the Sh182,000. Omar appealed to the county and national governments to consider lowering the charge to Settlement Fund Trustee (SFT).

Kea Kallu, another beneficiary, however said he was prepared to clear the amount so that he can use the title to secure a loan.

The residents, however, denied claims that the title deeds will sway Likoni voters to vote in a certain direction. "We cannot say the titles will tilt the political positions of beneficiaries although we are happy the Government gave us the documents," Omar said.

Amir Bejito said he could now call his home home after many years of living in fear of losing it.

Jane Makau also thanked the President for personally resolving the Waitiki land dispute. "But the amount (Sh182,000) is too high but we cannot refuse to pay as this would go against what the President directed us to do," Ms Makau said.

Mombasa Woman Representative Mishi Mboko welcomed the issuance of titles but urged the President to order the lowering of the amount, which she said was too high for residents. She said the suggestion by the Government to extend the period for paying from three years to 12 years should be enforced.

"I am urging the President and the governor to discuss how to lower the charge because it is too high for many beneficiaries," Mboko said.

Meanwhile, the former landowner Mr Waitiki has written to Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho asking for a waiver of land rates for Mombasa/Mainland South Block 1/363, Block 1/1031, Block V/109 and Block V110, commonly known as Waitiki Farm that was allocated to the squatters.

In the letter dated December 31 last year and seen by The Standard yesterday, Mr Waitiki also requested to be issued with a land rates clearance certificate, saying he has not been in possession or use of the four parcels of land after they were invaded by the squatters.

"This is my sincere request that you waive any outstanding land rates over the above parcels and issue me with a land rates clearance certificate," he said.

The letter was forwarded to Mr Joho through Lands Principal Secretary Mariam el Maawy who attached a cover letter supporting Mr Waitiki's request. Ms Maawy urged Joho to consider waiving the rates.

A source at the governor's office, however, suggested that it may be easy for county governments to waive interests on land rates but not the principal amount.

"Mr Waitiki was paid millions of shillings by the national government and we expect him to clear the land rates," said the source.

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