President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday ordered the National Land Commission to revoke allocation of the Kibarani dumpsite land to a private developer and hand it back to Mombasa county.
Further, the head of state directed that the 80-acre dumpsite be decommissioned and the land be used for recreational facilities as part of the efforts to reposition Mombasa as a top tourist destination.
The disputed parcel was a dumpsite but is said to have been reclaimed by private developers.
The developer or developers were not identified.
The President met with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Cabinet Secretaries Najib Balala (Tourism) and Keriako Tobiko (Environment). President Kenyatta also agreed to a county request for city regeneration intervention, modelled on the Nairobi Regeneration Programme.
In the Nairobi Regeneration Programme, the county and national governments are working together to improve infrastructure and services. President Kenyatta’s directives on the Kibarani dumpsite and the Mombasa Regeneration Project conform to his Big Four development agenda that seeks to improve livelihoods by increasing wealth and creating jobs.
Earlier yesterday, Governor Joho also ordered those who claim to own Kibarani land to surrender their titles to the government.
Joho said some individuals grabbed the land and came up with ownership claims as soon as he ordered county officers to reclaim the dumpsite.
“They saw the county government move in to clear Kibarani, which had become an eyesore. They claimed it was their land and had a right to build a wall around it,” Joho said.
The county chief had been accused of ignoring landgrabbing along the Indian Ocean creek. Yesterday, he said he will not be “disrupted by naysayers who want to divert the agenda of putting up a green park at Kibarani.”
“We decided today that we will take all grabbed land back to the public. So, if you are holding a title for Kibarani, find your way to the National Land Commission or any national or county government office and hand it back,” Joho said. “You’ll do nothing on that parcel. Be a good man or woman, whoever you are.”
GRABBED LONG AGO
He promised to work with the national government to develop Kibarani into a recreational facility. Joho dismissed claims his administration was behind the private development.
Balala defended Joho, saying Kibarani was grabbed many years before Joho became governor.
“I was the mayor of Mombasa over 20 years ago. Before I even became mayor, Kibarani had been grabbed. We are now going to work with the Mombasa government to get it back,” he said.
Balala said he would meet with Joho on September 14, along with representatives of the Lands ministry and the National Land Commission to work for the people of Mombasa.
Joho said the county government is the custodian of all public land in the county and will protect it. Balala told the county boss that 14 powerful individuals had grabbed the City Park in Nairobi, but the national government still took it back.
Joho responded, “That’s the same conversation we’re having here.” he said Kibarani is public land and whoever claims ownership should go to the nearest government office, even the chief’s office, and return the title deed. “We’re taking it back.
“You can probably say anything now because I’m the governor, but in the next four years after I leave office, the land will remain in the hands of those who will be taking over after me,” he said.
Tobiko told residents that the Environment ministry will work with the county to decommission Kibarani and build a modern green park.
The joint team will remove garbage, dumped in the creek, he said. Tobiko said they have negotiated with Bamburi Cement Company to allow the county to use some its open quarry as a landfill.
“The Kibarani dumpsite has to be decommissioned very fast,” he said.
The National Assembly Environment committee also toured Kibarani and ordered several people accused of grabbing the land to appear before it on August 9. The team wants the reclamation of the land stopped immediately.
“Environment CS Tobiko will be held personally liable if reclamation continues,” committee chairperson Kareke Mbiuki said.
The legislators summoned the Mombasa Cement Company and the owner of two companies said to have reclaimed part of Kibarani.
Mombasa Cement was awarded a tender to collect garbage on behalf of the county and has stationed several of its garbage trucks at the site.
The MPs also want the NLC to answer questions about the parcel. Nema and the KPA will also be questioned.
The committee further asked the DPP to probe suspected grabbers and prosecute culprits.