NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 3 – The Ministry of Lands is waiting approval from the Attorney General’s office over the purchase of 16 parcels of land in the Coast, Eastern, Central and Nyanza provinces for settling squatters.
Responding to MPs’ questions in Parliament, Lands Minister James Orengo said the land belongs to 16 out of 33 bidders who responded to the government’s offer and that the sale agreements are before Amos Wako for scrutiny before approval.
Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua had raised the query claiming that government was dragging its feet in dealing with the issue while Garsen legislator Danson Mungatana called on the government to consider proximity as the guiding factor of the resettlement process particularly for squatters from the coast.
But Mr Orengo said the land was not sufficient to resettle all the IDPs and that the ministry had advertised for more.
The Lands Minister said the government was aware of the concerns raised and that it was alert to ensure unscrupulous people do not benefit from the exercise.
Meanwhile, debate on the Sessional Paper on the Draft National Land Policy continued in Parliament with MPs asking for demystifying the importance attached to land to reduce conflicts and encourage productivity.
In supporting the Policy nominated MP Rachael Shebesh emphasised that there is need to address land issues in the coastal strip in order to solve the squatter problem that has been bedevilled the residents since independence.
She said: “We must kill the impression that if you do not have land you will never be successful. A lot of youths will never own land in Kenya. This impression is a cause of conflict. If you do not solve the land problem of squatters, especially in the Coast Province do not call elections in 2012. Coast is a time bomb.”
Ministers Kiraitu Murungi and Noah Wekesa supported the policy saying that it addresses the land issues that have been facing the nation. Mr Wekesa said he supported the move to tax big chunks of land that were left underutilised.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula lauded the policy but urged his lands counterpart to review the issue of idle land to ensure that those who avoid tilling for their desire to conserve the environment will not have their land repossessed by the government.
He said the success of the policy relied largely on how parent ministries and local authorities handled its implementation.