TYCOONS HAVE TAKEN OVER

Squatters protest against land grabs in Lamu

Most land in the small county has not been demarcated and titled

In Summary

• Squatters march from Hindi town to Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha’s office in Mokowe demanding audience with county boss

• There is a fierce scramble among tycoons for land close to the Lamu Port Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project (Lapsset)

Thousands of squatters take to the streets to protest land grabbing in Lamu.
Squatters protest land grabbing in Lamu. Thousands of squatters take to the streets to protest land grabbing in Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Crowds of squatters from Lamu on Wednesday took to the streets to protest harassment by tycoons who have grabbed land on the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The squatters from 19 villages want the government to demarcate land in their areas and issue them with title deeds.

They want the county government to break its silence over their situation and provide a way forward.

Carrying placards and chanting freedom songs, the squatters marched from Hindi town to Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha’s office in Mokowe town demanding audience with the county boss. He is out of the county.

There is a fierce scramble among tycoons for land close to the Lamu Port Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project (Lapsset).

Land remains a thorny issue in Lamu considering over 60 per cent of the parcels haven’t been demarcated and are still classified as public.

This has resulted in thousands rendered squatters on their land by moneyed tycoons who have fake title deeds.

The protestors said they are tired of being frustrated by tycoons.

They accused the county government of not honouring numerous pledges of land reforms that would see all owners issued with title deeds.

Some of the squatters said parts of their lands have already been fenced off by grabbers and now live in constant fear.

Their efforts to be addressed by the governor himself were futile as he is currently out of the county.

Officials sent to listen to the squatters were chased away by the angry protestors who swore to camp at the governor’s office until he returns and listens to their woes.

“We will be here until the governor comes back.We know he is either in Mombasa or Nairobi. He can take a flight and rush back. We are even ready to send him air fare if he doesn’t have. This matter must be resolved now,” Hassan Chonde said.

They want the governor to coordinate with the National Land Commission to solve their grievances.

“The governor has said he will do something but doesn’t seem genuine. Months have now turned into years.Tycoons are taking over our lands and homes and we are now tired. He must come and resolve this whether he likes it or not," Chonde said.

Twaha has many times said his administration recognizes the plight of squatters and plans were being initiated to address the situation.

Last year, the county government launched land surveys to resettle squatters.

But they say the exercises is meant to assist a select few while the majority continue to suffer.

“The surveys are only happening in some villages. We are all squatters and need the same assistance but people are playing games with our situation and we are tired,”said Magdalene Kachimbi of Shee Mgambo village.

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