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CS Njeru pledges to resolve land problems in Coast region

 Lands Cabinet Secretary Zachariah Njeru issues a title deed to a squatter at Maweni in Mtwapa, Kilifi County. [Robert Menza, Standard]

The national government has promised to resolve the land question in Coast.

Cabinet Secretary Zacharia Njeru said the ministry is committed to finding a lasting solution and will not allow cartels to evict poor people using forged documents.

Speaking after meetings in Gamba and Danisa in Garsen, Tana River, Njeru assured residents that they would be issued with title deeds.

The CS, the National Assembly Committee on Land and the National Land Commission also toured Kilifi County.

He issued 1,200 title deeds for the Maweni Settlement Scheme in Mtwapa, which had been a subject of court disputes for decades. The CS said the Government has also set aside land for public utilities like mosques, churches and social halls.

In Gamba, discussions centred on the issue of group ranches and settlements created immediately after independence.

"I understand that without title deeds, you cannot do any development. We shall work with the county government and the National Land Commission to sort out this matter once and for all," he said.

Lands Principal Secretary Nixon Korir urged the beneficiaries to avoid the tendency of selling the land to return to being squatters, saying this will perpetuate landlessness and poverty.

"Next time we come here, we hope to see beautiful buildings and homes. Issuing these title deeds is meant to uplift your standards of living," said Korir.

Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga said the issuance of the title deeds was historic. "The parents of some of the beneficiaries lived on this land and were buried here but they could not call it their home because some big barons used powers to deprive them of their rights," said the MP.

In Tana River, Korir said a technical committee, which includes representatives from the ministry, NLC and the residents, would be formed to resolve land problems.

Some of the group ranches whose members were represented at the meeting were Kibusu, Kitangale, Idasagodana, Giritu, Wachu, Kon Dertu and Haganda.

Residents, led by Governor Dhadho Godhana, Senator Danson Mungatana and Grasen MP Ali Wario, said lack of title deeds hinders development.

Most land in the county is managed in trust for residents, and this has been a recipe for disagreements between pastoralists and farmers.

Speaking at Danisa in Tana Delta, Governor Godhana said the area had been neglected. "The titles are issued in neighbouring areas such as Kitui, Taita Taveta and Lamu counties, but we are always bypassed. I have no land ownership document as a governor," he said.

Added Mungatana: "Our grandparents secured this land a long time ago, but the problem is that no one owns land legally in this county."

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