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Free land, national holiday top Coast demands of BBI

By Jacob Ng’etich | January 26th 2020
Governors Dhadho Godana (Tana River), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Mombasa Deputy Governor Dr. William Kingi (left) during the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). (Kelvin Karani, Standard)

The Coast region wants the government to buy land from absentee landlords and resettle the affected communities and return port operations to Mombasa.

The region is also radically calling for the creation of a holiday to celebrate October 8, 1963, the day the Coastal strip became part and parcel of Kenya. 

In a statement read by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, the region also called for the ruling Jubilee Party to undertake full implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and Ndung’u Commission reports.

As an alternative to buying land belonging to absentee landlords, the Coast region’s leaders and residents are calling on Parliament to enact laws that will revoke all grants held by the landlords and pass a national policy on historical land injustices through which a substantive stand-alone law on how to address them will be enacted.

The resolutions were endorsed on Friday by 3,000-odd delegates from the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Taita Taveta and Lamu at the Wild Waters Hotel in Mombasa during a BBI consultative forum.   

In the 16-point resolution, they have also asked the government to undertake a rapid result initiative programme of titling all untitled land in favour of the Coastal people to avert further land grabbing.

Possession of land

“Expired leases are not to be renewed unless with approval of the county governments and establishment of a regional land authority under the Constitution,” reads part of the resolutions.

The authority is to have quasi-judicial powers to enable it review land grants and hear claims of adverse possession of land.

“Pending implementation of the above recommendations, all eviction orders are to be suspended,” the statement reads.

Noting the economic crisis leading to severe unemployment in the region, triggered by economic policy changes brought about by the SGR, the statement called for full reversion of all port operations to Mombasa.

This, they said, will help revive the transport and logistics sector in general and save many employment opportunities that have been lost.

While addressing the third BBI rally, Kingi said the national government should provide an economic stimulus fund for the key growth sectors of blue economy, including tourism, transport and logistics and ports. The statement also called on the national government to support the revival of defunct industries in the Coastal region, particularly those related to cotton, coconuts, cashewnuts, rice, bixa, simsim and sugar. 

They also want these crops classified and acknowledged as cash crops under the law.

The region also wants the creation of a blue economy ministry at the national level, complete with a Cabinet Secretary from the area.

Kingi also called for the establishment of a federal system of government where there will be regional governments besides the counties. “Funding allocated for these regional and county governments should take up 70 per cent of the national revenue,” he said.

To this end, they called for the creation of an Upper Coast Region (Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River counties) and Lower Coast Region (Taita Taveta, Mombasa and Kwale). 

“And to ensure all regions sit on the highest decision-making table, we propose expansion of the Executive by providing for the president, deputy president, a prime minister and two deputies,” the statement reads. 

The forum said these positions, as well as those of Speakers in the Senate and the National Assembly, Chief Justice and the Attorney General, will make up nine top positions which should be shared equally among the regions.

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