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Mombasa MPs and county reps plot to reap from free Waitiki land

COAST
By Benard Sanga | April 26th 2016

Fifteen Mombasa MCAs and two MPs will benefit from a Sh1.25 billion payout for the purchase of Waitiki farm.

The Mombasa County Assembly on April 14 gave the county administration the green light to release the Sh1.25 billion to buy the land from Evanson Kamau Waitiki.

Mr Waitiki surrendered the land to the State in December last year and President Uhuru Kenyatta said each of the estimated 7,000 squatters who had occupied the land since 1997 would be required to pay Sh182,000. The county government opposed this proposal and asked the squatters be settled for free. The county government claimed Mr Waitiki owed it Sh400 million in land rates accrued for 20 years.

The Standard has established that an MP has several residential properties on the 930-acre farm. Relatives of another MP also own and occupy plots.

rental houses

Now these people could benefit from free land if the county government heeds the assembly’s resolution calling for a blanket payment of all squatters and occupiers. Last week Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho formed a committee to negotiate the payout with the national government.

Land Executive Anthony Njaramba said the county government would not discriminate against anyone.

Yesterday The Standard established that some MCAs, who own rental houses on the farm, were yet to pay the Sh182,000 per plot as they were waiting for the county to pay for them.

A nominated MCA is said to own three plots while 14 elected others also own plots of varying sizes on the farm.

“I have two plots which I bought from the locals on that farm. I have not paid the Sh182,000 (for each plot) because I was aware that the motion would pass and the county government will pay,” said Timbwani MCA Tom Oluoch.

Mr Oluoch said he expected the county government to offset the Sh368,000 for his two plots which are behind the Likoni Approved School.

Portriez MCA Fadhil Makarani also admitted owning a plot on the farm.

“My brothers and I own a plot there and we have not paid. Let people not think that because someone is an MCA then he is able to pay. Some MCAs have many loans and they earn nothing,” said Mr Makarani, who is the county assembly’s Public Accounts Committee chairman.

Yesterday, Shamsan Nagib of the Kenya Lands Alliance said: “Over 10 MCAs own houses on Waitiki farm. It is a scheme by the MCAs to hide in the midst of the poor so the public can buy land for them. I urge the governor to rescind the decision.”

On Sunday, National Land Commission Chairman Muhamad Swazuri said 3,200 out of 4,600 beneficiaries had paid the amount and were issued with title deeds.

“I have not received any communication from Mombasa county government on its intent to pay,” said Dr Swazuri.

He said a total of 7,600 title deeds are supposed to be issued to settlers, adding that about 3,000 squatters would be issued with land ownership documents in the second phase.

County Secretary Francis Thoya yesterday said a social-economic analysis would be conducted and those found able to pay would be left out of the payout plan. 

This, however, contradicted Mr Njaramba’s recent assertion that “public funds are for the poor and the rich” hinting nobody would be left out.

“What the county assembly passed will be assessed by the executive to make sure public funds are utilised in the best way,” said Mr Thoya.

He said the Ministry of Lands had not shared with the county the list of occupiers settled on the 930-acre farm hence “cannot comment whether there are MCAs with land there”.

Njaramba said the county was able to draw Sh5 million monthly from the Equalisation Fund to pay for the Waitiki squatters.

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