Two years on, residents hold titles for ‘non existent’ land
More than two years since the government issued title deeds to about 170 residents of Chakama location in Kilifi county, some of the beneficiaries are yet to identify the land whose titles they hold.
Consequently, they have asked the authorities to show them their pieces of land to end anxiety that has gripped them since they received the documents in the run up to the 2017 General Election.
“Most of us are wondering what to do with the papers since we have failed to identify the land for which we hold the titles,” says Chengo Mure, a village elder.
Mure says some of the beneficiaries have been forced to sell the documents at throw away prices because they suspect they were duped for political reasons.
“Each beneficiary received a title deed for land measuring 7.5 acres, but since they do not know their respective pieces, some have been selling the papers as low as Sh150,000, just to get over the anxiety,” he says.
“The papers we are holding do not have any value since we cannot trace the pieces of land as stated in the land documents,” he said at the Chakama chief’s camp.
He claimed the land adjudication and allocation exercise was skewed since the original list of beneficiaries was replaced with one that included “outsiders” who were allocated land on River Sabaki while the residents were pushed to the dry parts of the location.
Mure urged concerned officers to visit the area and explain how the allocation was done, claiming that the locals had found themselves with total strangers as neighbours, who were also pushing them out of their homesteads claiming to own the land.
Chakama has had a history of controversies. In 1978, a group of people, among them local politicians, approached the locals and convinced them to form the Chakama Ranching Company. 100,000 acres of land was then hived off and registered in the name of Chakama Ranching Company on a 45-year lease hold under the then Kilifi County Council.
Sometime later, the directors of the ranching company took a Sh100 million loan from a bank and defaulted in payment, forcing the financial institution to advertise the land for sale. Some residents waged a media campaign that eventually forced the government of retired President Kibaki to stop the sale in 2004.
Kibaki directed then Finance Minister David Mwiraria to look for funds to rescue the 100,000 acres to settle the more than 4,000 residents occupying the land.
The government later bought the land at Sh108 million but it was not until the run up to the 2017 General Election when part of the land was hurriedly adjudicated and title deeds issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi town.
Benson Chengo, who says he was born and brought up in Chakama, said he witnessed the first adjudication programme in 1978 as he was among the casual labourers who helped lands officials in the exercise.
Kilifi Lands executive Charles Dadu has urged the residents to be patient as his office would soon start showing them their lands. “I urge them not to sell the documents since we will soon embark on an exercise of showing the beneficiaries of phase one of the project the land they own,” Dadu told journalists.