The National Land Commission (NLC) in conjunction with the County Government of Kilifi, have embarked on the documentation of historical land injustices claims in the county.
This is after it emerged that the deadline for the submission of such claims of injustices meted between 1895 and August 27, 2010, was fast approaching yet many victims of the injustices had not submitted the claims.
According to the law, victims of such claims are supposed to submit their claims to the National Land Commission by September 21, 2021 after which they will no longer be able to do so.
A statement from the County Government’s Department of Lands said the exercise was aimed at collection and collation of Kilifi County Historical Land Injustice issues for redress by the National Land Commission.
Officials from the NLC and the Lands Department have been conducting sensitization meetings at ward level during which aggrieved persons have been filling claim forms. They expect to reach all the 35 wards by September 16, 2021.
However, some victims of historical land injustices in Kilifi have expressed their reservations on the ability of the commission in resolving land issues after other commissions tried to resolve the matters in the past but failed.
They said that many commissions, such as the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya and the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal/Irregular Allocation of Public Land (the Ndung’u Commission) had gone to the ground and collected information on land injustices, which they put in reports that have not been implemented.
Emotions ran high at the Watamu Social Hall Monday where residents of Kilifi/Jimba and Chembe/Kibabamche settlement schemes felt the sensitization meetings and collection of the claims should have been conducted in the disputed parcels of land instead of holding the meeting inside a hall.
The hundreds of victims who thronged the hall claimed they had suffered historical land injustices after their land was taken away by influential people while the indigenous people remained squatters.
Kombe Hare, 67 from the Kilifi/Jimba said historical injustices had been meted on residents after title deeds on the land on which they live were issued to unknown tycoons from other areas.
“They come with title deeds from Nairobi; they come with surveyors from Nairobi to be shown their purported land, which they do not even know, yet locals have been occupying those pieces of land since independence,” he said.
The sentiments were echoed by other residents, who felt that the government had not done enough to solve the land question in the area and hoped that the exercise being undertaken by the commission would yield fruit this time.
Mr. Stembo Kaviha, a land rights activist in Sabaki Ward, said many commissions had been formed and spent a lot of public funds to collect facts on land but their reports were not implemented.
“I have misgivings about his exercise because of the history of commissions that have collected information on land injustices, but whose reports are gathering dust in shelves,” he said.
However, Kilifi County Chief Surveyor Gabriel Khonde and the Executive Director of the Institute of Participatory Development Mr. Raphael Mzungu Ngoma, urged Kenyans, and especially the residents of the Coast region, who may be victims of historical land injustices, to submit their claims for redress.