Granton Samboja issues 2,600 title deeds to squatters


Ministry of lands officials in Taita-Taveta county registering title deeds for Kishushe Adjudication section in Taita Sub County. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja has issued 2,600 title deeds to squatters in Kishushe, Mwatate sub-county.

This brings the number of title deeds issued in the sub-county in the recent past to 4,000. 

Mr Samboja said his government was committed to ending the squatter menace blamed for endless land conflicts.

He vowed not to recommend the renewal of land leases that have expired. About 86 per cent of land in the county is occupied by a few private settlers. 

Samboja said parcels of land whose leases have expired will be reverted back to locals for settlement of squatters.

Among the leases that have expired include the disputed 3000-acre Machungwani Farm formerly owned by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos. 

The lease expired in 2014 but Mr Criticos has since applied for an extension. 

The other land whose lease has expired is the 5000-acre Mkuki Ranch in Mwatate that has been invaded by illegal herders and miners. 

Samboja has vowed to block the renewal of the lease for the ranch, among others, and allocate the land to locals if re-elected in the August 9 polls.

The governor says the lease to Mkuki Ranch expired in 2020 but a group of people, among them two MPs, took it over and registered it as a company.

In a recent wave of protests, angry residents invaded ranches, sisal estates and mining fields demanding their 'land rights'.

Besides taking over the disputed properties, the residents have not only been subdividing land but also confiscating livestock belonging to the landowners.

Meanwhile, the County Lands Chief Officer (CCO) Leonard Langat has appealed to local residents to desist from encroaching on public land. 

"All parcels of land earmarked for public utilities will be protected at all costs. We are calling on the public to be at the forefront in protecting public land by reporting grabbers to the relevant authorities for action," said the CCO.