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Wind up all land buying companies to end disputes, National Land commission orders

COUNTIES
By NDERITU GICHURE | August 14th 2015
Dr. Mohamed Swazuri during the National Land Commision inquiry. The Swazuri-led Commision is taking place at the KICC Nairobi. This was on 22/08/14. PHOTO BY PIUS CHERUIYOT

All former and current land buying companies should be disbanded to end persistent wrangles, the National Land commission (NLC) has ordered.

NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri said land buying firms should be dissolved once they are done giving and allocating land to their right owners, saying the move would help end perennial land disputes.

Swazuri noted among the problems they hope to solve are the disputes over the Lapsset Project in Lamu, the long-running Waitiki Farm squatter problem in Mombasa, the Oljorai and Kari land issues in Nakuru and several others countrywide.

"The commission is determined to end the squabbling in land buying companies, some of which have led to bloodletting as in the recent case of Kihiu Mwiri Company, where several directors have been killed," he said.

The NLC chair was speaking yesterday at Mwichwiri Secondary School in Kieni East sub-county in Nyeri, where he started the process of identifying genuine shareholders so that they can eventually receive their title deeds.

"The commission intends to deal with the land issue before the next General Election in a bid to prevent people from using the emotive issue during campaigns to rally support for their preferred candidates," Mr Swazuri said.

Security risk

He stated that some of the land buying companies should have wound up the moment their shareholders got their allotments but that has not been the case as some of them have remained despite having achieved their objectives.

Swazuri gave the example of Mwicwiri Farmers' Company that has been entangled in long court battles since 1972, with two faction of directors emerging to claim ownership of the 3,127 acres parcel of lands.

The directors of the company, however, ordered a second and formal survey in 1979 that immediately sparked disputes after original portions were reportedly reduced and new members included.

"We have requested both factions to supply the commission with court rulings, original list of company directors and official maps within the next three weeks," said Swazuri.

He noted that for the first time, the two factions had held lengthy talks with both sides in the dispute and they had agreed that both sides submit any documentation they might have so that the resolution of their problems can be found.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega who had invited the commission to resolve the matter said the long-running problem had not only held back the development of the scheme but also posed a security risk.

"Frustrated farmers might resort to bloodletting as has happened in other land buying companies because they feel that the judicial system has failed them," Mr Kanini said.

He added that the farmers are unable to develop their farms because they lack title deeds that could enable them to access credit. The MP said the land issue in the constituency had become fragile, with previous MPs refusing to commit themselves to the resolution of the problem for fear of losing votes.

"Drastic action should be taken against firms that have refused to wind up even after serving their purpose," he said.

Kanini observed that most of them were operating illegally because they did not file annual returns as required by the Companies Act.

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