, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – Lamu residents finally have something to celebrate after the National Land Commission revoked titles of 12 companies believed to have grabbed land in the area.
The over 250,000 acres of land is now under the care of the Lamu County Government and according to Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, the residents are free to apply for grants so as to put the land to good use.
“Now the locals will be able to apply to be given land through the right channels – grants through the National Land Commission – and therefore they will be able to access land in their own right—it is not coming to the government for keeps—we want it to be put to use,” Ngilu said.
Ngilu further pointed out that there was no limit to how much land one could apply for saying as long one could justify the purpose of the land, no one would be denied their right to own it.
The lands CS also warned those intending to use influence to lock out others in the application process that the land was public and was open to everyone.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had in July this year ordered the lands commission and the Lands, Urban and Housing Ministry to investigate the legality of the allocation of huge parcels of land totaling over 500,000 acres.
The companies whose parcels of land were revoked are: Brick Investments Limited, Rusken International limited, Lamu and Tana Sugar Company Limited, Shanghai Investments, Fincorp Investments, Sheila Ranch Limited, Dynamic Trading Company, Savanna Fresh Fruits Limited, Khairalla Ranch, Cyberdom Investments and KAAB Investments Ltd.
The only company which escaped the purge was parcel LR.No. 23153 owned by Maalim Ranching Company Limited which the commission says was obtained proper legal and technical procedures which were valid.
Parcel No. LR. 29110 registered under Brick Investment limited was expunged from the list after its directors proved that they did not own any land in Lamu while Witu Conservation Ranch was also expunged since it was found to be a project within Witu Nyongoro Ranch.
Eight parcels of land were regularized which means certain anomalies needed to be corrected for instance some had squatters and a resolve had to be reached over accommodation while some had potions that needed to be considered for specific purposes like conservation of natural resources.
The lands commission had specific proposals over how certain parcels of land which were handed over to the Lamu County Government could be used for instance, for the Lamu and Tana Sugar Company Limited the commission recommended that part of it be used to set up a either a Sugar factory, industrial park or livestock factory, for Dynamic Trading Company and Savanna Fresh Fruits Limited, that the county considers the interest of local farmers.
Enangani Ranch is among those still under review since it is said to host the Kenya Navy Base and the proposed Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
During their site visit to the Lamu area, the commission also came across other ranches which it is now investigating. They include, Tullu Mbugani Ranch, Lamu Estate Ranch, Bajaber Salt Works and Ranch, TSS Ranch among others.
It is reported that the grabbed land accounts for 70 percent of all the land in Lamu with the residents holding on to 30 percent.
In July, a wave of attacks rocked Lamu where over 100 people were killed. The attacks were blamed on Alshabaab but the government insists that the attacks were as a result of politics and land grabbing cases.