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Over 50 families face eviction in land dispute with private developer

Rift Valley
 A section of squatters claiming ownership to the prime piece. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

There was drama at the Syokimau area in Mavoko, Machakos County today, after a section of squatters claiming ownership a prime piece of land in the area, attempted to stop a private developer from putting up a perimeter fence.

The over 50 families, who are Pastoralists, claim ownership of the disputed land through adverse possession by the virtue of living in the land since 1993 while the land claimant has land ownership documents. 

The families now face a forceful eviction over land ownership dispute pitting them against a private developer.

Adverse land possession in Kenya land says that a trespasser can claim land he or she has settled in for more than 12 years if they prove the same beyond reasonable doubt.

The borne of contention among the two warring parties have been claims by the squatters that the land claimant identified as Salah Ahmed Sheik ownership documents required verification.

Yesterday, agitated squatters stopped the erection of a perimeter wall at the one-acre piece of land they have been squatting prompting police to act swiftly to avert commotion.

''We are shocked to see this man attempt to construct a perimeter fence here in our land, we have been living here since 1992, where was he when we settled in this land,” posed Soimon Somoine.

The two groups were later summoned to the Mavoko SNP police station and directed to produce their documents.

In an arbitration meeting led by SNP Mavoko Deputy Police Commander Peter Limo, Salah produced ownership and supporting documents while the squatters had no land ownership legal documents.

 Salah Ahmed Sheik shows The Standard the land ownership documents, [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Speaking to The Standard, Salah said he has all the documents from the Ministry of Lands, and also the sale agreements.

“I'm here with all the documents that pertain to this piece of land, these people are just squatters who settled in my land and they must leave now, I’m ready to develop my land',” said Salah.

Later the police boss urged the squatters to instead seek court redress on the matter saying the developer will be protected to develop his property.

The police commander further directed that during the resolution meeting the squatters did not present any supporting evidence as to why land claimant construction should be stopped.

“We have no legal document present before us to stop the developer from developing his piece of land, we have seen his documents while the other party has nothing to show,” said Limo.

He also reassured both parties of their security saying nobody will be victimized whatsoever further warning those involved against taking law into their hands or any breach of security.

Land disputes are rampant in Athi-River Mavoko owning to the expansive undeveloped chunks of land.

Machakos and Mavoko Lands and Environment Courts are piled up with hundreds of land cases that are yet to be settled.

Reports of land invasion by intruders, and issues of land grabbing are the order of the day at the Athi River police station. 

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