COMPLAINTS OVER DELAYED PAYOUTS

Twaha pledges speedy compensation for owners of Lamu headquarters land

Not a single landowner has been compensated six years after they vacated their parcels to allow construction of county offices

In Summary

• The parcels were acquired in 2013 shortly after the first country administration took over.

• The offices were completed in July 2017.

Lamu County headquarters in Mokowe town, which was constructed at a cost of Sh220 million
Lamu County headquarters in Mokowe town, which was constructed at a cost of Sh220 million
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Lamu residents whose land was acquired for the establishment of the county headquarters in Mokowe town will be compensated soon, Governor Fahim Twaha said yesterday.

The parcels were acquired in 2013 shortly after the first country administration took over. The offices were completed in July 2017. However, not a single landowner has been compensated. The county government had been silent over the issue. The residents have been questioning whether they would get their cash.  

In December last year, former National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri met the 54 landowners and pledged to have them compensated before the end of January. That never happened even after they were cleared for compensation by the commission. The county chief, therefore, sought to allay the fears. 

The NLC has, however, ruled out cash payouts, saying the landowners will be given alternative parcels. The residents say this is a deliberate scheme to frustrate them. But the commission maintains that cash will only be issued for developments that were on the land at the time of acquisition. They include houses, crops, and trees.

Governor Twaha supported the landowners' demand for cash payments. He said every person must be paid to the last penny. Twaha said his administration is already in talks with the commission to ensure speedy compensation.

“There's no question about it. These people must be paid to the last shilling. It's been long overdue, considering people had to leave their homes and farms for the headquarters to be built. We understand government procedures take long, but payment must happen soon — that I promise,” Twaha said.

The governor said his administration is also working round the clock to ensure all squatters are resettled on idle parcels. Lamu has a huge squatter population, a problem that has largely been compounded by the fact that adjudication has not been carried on more than 60 per cent of land in the region. Landgrabbers have had a field day, taking advantage of the loophole.

Prior efforts to resettle squatters on the expansive Swahili Scheme in Hindi, Lamu West, failed. Private developers encroached on it soon after the NLC announced plans to survey and demarcate the scheme ahead of the resettlement. This has led to endless conflicts.

(Edited by F'Orieny)