Team mulls over alternatives to fix land problems

By Patrick Beja

The National Land Commission (NLC) will resort to the alternative dispute resolution legislation to fix immediate land problems as it develops long-term mechanisms.

NLC chairman Mohamed Swazuri said the commission would facilitate negotiations between landowners and squatters to forestall evictions.

He said alternative dispute resolution was anchored in law and existing land policies and would be used to settle conflicts between land owners and occupants facing evictions.

Dispute resolution

“The alternative dispute resolution is provided for in law and we will apply it to facilitate negotiations between land owners and squatters,” Dr Swazuri explained.  

He told squatters facing evictions to alert the commission for action.

He said a taskforce on Resettlement and Eviction was on a retreat in Nakuru to finalise a Bill, adding NLC was also working on mechanisms that would be in place in two years.

Validate report

Swazuri spoke in Mombasa on Saturday when he launched a land report, Entitlement Without Titles, showing many people at the Coast still live as squatters.

The research was carried out by Haki Yetu Organisation under the Mombasa Catholic Archdiocese and funded by the USAid through Kenya Transition Initiative.

Swazuri said from April 25, a committee on land regulations would begin collecting views before a national stakeholders’ forum to validate the report.

He said the commission has taken over land administration, adjudication and settlement, part of physical planning and survey and land management systems unit from the Ministry of Lands.

“Next month we expect county land boards to be established,” Swazuri said.

At the Coast, 120,000 squatters face eviction at Waitiki farm in Likoni and 10,000 others at Mazrui farm in Kilifi County.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar (top right picture)  and Haki Yetu director Father Gabriel Dolan expressed doubt that the Jubilee Government would offer goodwill on land reforms.

They claimed since President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta was one of the largest land owners, it was unlikely he would support land reforms.

“Coast voted for CORD because residents fear Uhuru may not implement land reforms and Coast elected leaders will unite to fight for land rights,” Omar said, adding he will remain an activist in and outside the Senate.

Redistribute land

Father Dolan, who is in charge of the Bangladesh Catholic Parish in Mombasa urged the Kenyatta family to redistribute its land to squatters to win confidence in the Jubilee Government’s commitment to land reforms. “We expect Uhuru’s family to distribute about 400,000 acres to squatters to prove political goodwill. Otherwise we don’t believe Jubilee can implement land reforms,” the priest said.

He challenged the Jubilee administration to allocate 10 per cent of the national Budget to NLC for the next 10 years to sort out the land mess.