Over 2,000 titles of grabbed land revoked

Langata road primary school is loud and clear who owns the disputed land at the Langata road primary school after the big sign post by Nairobi county. January 25th,2015. Photo/Elvis Ogina (Nairobi)

The National Land Commission (NLC) has revoked more than 2,000 title deeds of grabbed public land. The land belongs to learning institutions, hospitals, road reserves, markets, garbage dump sites, sewerage, ponds, and even roundabouts.

This comes even as dozens of residents in Nairobi cry foul over alleged grabbing of public spaces meant for communal use. A list of complaints presented to the Kenya Alliance of Residents Association (Kara), shows at least 10 residential estates in Nairobi where land meant for communal use has been grabbed by private developers.

For instance, in Fedha estate, where land designated as a children’s playground and the only recreational area for over 350 households, has allegedly been subdivided and allocated to a private developer.

Residents claim the plot in phase 1 has already been grabbed, and residential houses put up, leaving them with the plot in phase Two.

In Muthaiga North, residents cite the alleged grabbing of  three plots, and recently one was fenced off by a private developer.

At stake is land initially meant for a nursery school and a plot, which was recently fenced off by an unknown private developer. While terming the grabbing of public utility land across the country as dire, NLC vice chair Abigael Mbagaya-Mukolwe says the problem is not confined to residential areas in Nairobi.

In Kisumu for instance, land meant for putting up civil servants quarters by the Ministry of Housing had been grabbed as well as land set aside for expansion at the Kipchoge Keino stadium in Eldoret. These public spaces have since been recovered.

Schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kakamega (Kakamega Primary School), whose land had been grabbed can also breathe a sigh of relief following the revocation of title deeds of private developers.

According to the commission, title deeds in Mwiki and Tena estates in Nairobi, Karura forest, and City Park have also been revoked. The situation is similar for Chembe Kibambamshe Settlement Scheme in Kilifi.

In Mombasa, the county government presented to the commission a list of 600 public utility land it claims was grabbed. So far the Commission has held public hearings to review about 250 of the grants for these property to determine the legality of their allocation.

In Mandera, grounds hosting an Administration Police Officer’s camp had been grabbed with public space meant for a District Officer’s office allocated to a private developer.

Other titles that have been revoked are for land on which the Standard Gauge Railway is to be developed, as well as other infrastructural projects, like dual carriageways.

Mukolwe cites the stretch of land along the Southern bypass in Nairobi where some developers have continued to put up structures despite being on a road reserve and warns that they shall not be spared.

The Commission is now training its sights on developments on riparian land, given the threat of a looming El Nino and resultant devastating effects like floods.

Kara’s Deputy CEO and head of programmes Henry Ochieng says the problem of land grabbing in residential areas is widespread.“The list we have is what we had compiled at the time of meeting the NLC, but there could be more cases,” he says.

Other cases cited by Kara are Lakeview estate, Njumbi Road, Ngei Phase 1, Loresho North ,South C’s Akiba estate, and Rungiri area.

Another case is that of Metrovillas Estate versus Buruburu Girls Secondary school, where the 34-unit gated community claims to have been denied an approved access by the school.

“We have revoked some titles in Tena, Kimathi, Loresho and Outer Ring areas. Other cases in Buruburu and Lang’ata  are still pending. The case of Metrovillas estate versus Buruburu girls is in court, while the matter of Muthaiga North is under process. We have also held part hearings on the Loresho case,” Mukolwe says.