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Thursday, 5 January 2012

January 2012: Verbatin report of Taskforce on Land


VERBATIM REPORT ON
LAND SCANDAL IN ATHI-RIVER


CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

In the last two years, nu­merous complaints have been made to the Ministry of State for Pro­vin­cial Administration and Internal se­cu­rity regarding in­se­cu­rity in Athi-River largely attributed to issues of land con­flicts. These complaints pri­ma­rily relate to:-

(a) Outright invasion of pub­lic and private lands by invaders, who are not genu­ine squatters but rather organized groups in a well cal­cu­lated move to, take possession, subdivide and sell the land to unsuspecting Kenyans at as­tro­nomical prices.

(b) The disposal of in­sti­tu­tional land for various reasons without offering the local people an oppor­tu­nity to buy. These lands have over the years been sold to pri­vate developers who have put-up elaborate resi­den­tial and commer­cial estates.

The affected institutions in­clude:-

i. East African Port­land Cement Com­pany (EAPCC)

ii. Numerical Ma­chining Com­plex (NMC)

iii. National Social Se­cu­rity Fund (NSSF)

iv. National Housing Cor­po­ration (NHC) among others.

Among the Cooperative So­ci­eties were:-

Lukenya Co-operative Society;

Mitamboni Katani Co-operative Society; and Ngelani Co-operative Society among others


These invasions on public and private lands as well as the dis­plea­sure by the local commu­nity at the sale of land to their ex­clusion, has created major differences among the locals and the buyers. This situation has escalated to a breach of se­cu­rity in Athi River District. Efforts by the local leaders to resolve the crisis have not borne fruit and the matter has been heavily po­liti­cized which has further es­ca­lated the conflict and in­se­cu­rity.

As a result of the crisis and in order to ad­equately address the land conflict in Athi River, the Office of the President, Min­is­try of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security found it necessary to form a Taskforce to look at the Irregular Appro­priation of Pub­lic Land and the Squatter Problem in Athi River District.

The Taskforce was gazetted on 22nd July, 2011 vide Gazette Notice No. 8467 and officially launched on 8th August, 2011 and commenced its op­erations.


TERMS OF REFERENCE

The following were the gazetted terms of reference for the Taskforce:-

1.To examine and inquire into the allocations to pri­vate individuals or cor­po­rations, of public land or lands dedi­cated or re­served for public pur­poses including:

(a) Jumbo (Airport) land

(b) Numerical ma­chines land

(c) East Africa Port­land Cement land;

(d) National Housing Cor­po­ration/Ag­ri­cul­ture Syn­di­cate land;

(e) National Social Security Fund land;

(f) Public land around Daystar Uni­ver­sity

g.Margaret Wamaitha Humprey’s land (de­ceased).


2. To collect and collate evidence and information available relating to the nature, causes and extent of unlawful or irregular allo­cations of such land.


3. To prepare a list of all lands un­lawfully or irregular allocated, speci­fying the particulars of the lands and of the per­sons to whom or cor­po­rations to which they were allo­cated, the date of allocations, the particulars of all subsequent dealings in public land concerned and their current sta­tus.


4. To examine payment of land rates to Mavoko Mu­nici­pal Council relating to the said parcels of land.


5. To establish the nature of in­volvement of public offi­cials or any other per­sons in the irregular appro­priations and allo­cation of pub­lic land and to identify the officers in­volved.


6. To determine the se­cu­rity im­pli­cations of the squatter problem in Athi River District.


7. o carry out any other inquiries which in the opin­ion of the Taskforce is necessary in unraveling the irregu­lar land appro­priations and allo­cation in Athi River Dis­trict.


8. To recommend mea­sures to re­store public land irregularly allo­cated.


9. To recommend actions to be taken against per­sons involved in the irregu­lar land allocation in Athi River Dis­trict.


10. To examine transactions of the Land Control Boards against the back­ground of existing legal frame­work on their functions and powers and ex­plore reasons for their inability or failure or un­will­ingness or refusal to curtail the irregu­lar land appro­priations or allo­cations in the district.


11. To recommend mea­sures to be put in place to curb future irregular allo­cations of such land.


In the performance of their tasks, the Taskforce was re­quired to:-


1. Prepare detailed Work Plan in­di­cating the mile­stones and time lines


2. Develop a prioritized Matrix clearly cat­ego­rizing the imme­diate, me­dium and long-term reforms and budgetary re­quirements


3. Review any documents relevant to its mandate


4. Hold Consultative Fo­rums with pro­fessionals and the public.


Reporting

1. The Taskforce was re­quired to re­port to the Minister of State for Pro­vin­cial Ad­min­is­tration and In­ter­nal Security and;


2. The Taskforce was also required to regularly ad­vise and keep the Min­is­ter appraised on progress of their work.

 

The Taskforce was given the mandate to regulate its own procedure.


Duration


The Taskforce was given forty five (45) working days to accomplish its man­date.


INTERPRETATION OF THE TERMS OF REFERENCE


In the understanding of the Taskforce, the mandate was to collect and collate in­for­mation on appropriation of land in Athi River District and report the findings and rec­ommend to the Gov­ernment the nec­essary action to be taken to appro­pri­ately address the pre­vailing situation in Athi River District.


The Taskforce was required to largely look into and quantify the irregular appro­priation of public land and quantify the squatter prob­lem in the Dis­trict. The Taskforce was to further flag out all inconsistencies and irregularities, persons/officials involved and recommend re­me­dial measures and in­ter­ventions that enhance in­teg­rity of land regime in the District. The Taskforce was to also quantify any private con­cerns over the land matters as well as hold public hearings and obtain memo­randa from in­ter­ested parties.


The Taskforce endeavored to examine the link between the irregular appropriation of land and the squatter problem to the se­cu­rity threat with a view to making appropriate rec­ommen­dations. Although the main fo­cus was on public land owned by state cor­po­rations and parastatals, the Taskforce also addressed the irregularities and illegal ac­qui­sitions of private lands in line with the terms of ref­erence.


METHODOLOGY

The Taskforce adopted a stan­dard formal approach based on the work plan and na­ture of the task. Letters of invitation, summonses and pub­lic notices were done to give the widest coverage as necessary. A temporary liaison office was opened at the Mu­nici­pal Council of Mavoko for receipts of written memo­randa and other en­qui­ries. The findings and rec­ommen­dations were gen­erated from a rich source of data that was acquired. The following structural for­mat was found favourable.

2.1          BASELINE SURVEYS

The Taskforce relied on the for­mal reports that had been made to the Government; which by extension formed the basis of constituting the Terms of Reference for the Taskforce.

The Taskforce moved to the ground using the available data that was in possession of the Minister who was the appointing au­thority.  A Tech­nical Team was con­sti­tuted to prepare a work plan based on the information that was to guide the team in their work.  The launch speech by the Permanent Secretary generally gave the direction to the Taskforce and also the first public caution of the situation on the ground.  The statement expressly directed that all land transactions within the District must be stopped or sus­pended.

Among the items captured by the Technical Team were;

(a)           An open tour to the affected area.

(b)          Organizing public meetings for awareness cre­ation.

(c)           Public hearing dates.

(d)          Report presentations.

(e)           Documentation and vali­dation among others.


2.2          PUBLICITY AND PUBLIC NO­TICES

The Inauguration/Launching Speech formed the first public notice.  The Local Ad­min­is­tration was tasked to ensure the message about the mandate of the Taskforce was delivered to all the people within the District.  Public Barazas were planned; how­ever, the idea was shelved as the same was likely to jeopardize and pre-empt the public hearings.  This advice was timely as the Taskforce later gath­ered that the land specu­lators had mis­in­ter­preted the pur­pose of the Taskforce and were misleading the public that the Taskforce would regularize the illegally in­vaded farms.

Before embarking on the pub­lic hearing, the Taskforce made appointments with all pub­lic institution and State Cor­po­rations affected by in­vasions.

The meetings took place in their offices as follows;

a.             NMC        -               NMC Con­ference Room attended by MD, Legal Officer and the staff mem­bers who were han­dling the sub­ject matter.

b.NHC     -NHC Board­room; attended by a tech­nical team on In­vestment headed by the Ag. CEO and Senior HODs.

c.NSSF     -Boardroom; attended by General Manager In­vestment,     Legal Officer and officers in the department.

d.EAPCC - EAPCC Club House Board­room; attended by Chairman of the Board, Legal Officer and Se­nior Com­pany offi­cials. 

e.KAA     -JKIA Board; attended by MD KAA, Legal officer and Se­nior  Cor­po­rate Officers.

The Taskforce thereafter re­leased a paid-up Public No­tice in the major dailies announcing the 3 specific dates which ran for two weeks from 6th to 15th September, 2011 daily from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.  (See annex)


        FIELD VISITS

The Taskforce made several field visits to the affected ar­eas. Three  among them were:-

a.An unguided tour con­ducted to gen­erally give the mem­bers an idea of the magnitude of the problem in the area. 

During this tour mem­bers came face to face with the reality on the ground and wit­nessed how the land specu­lators were placing bea­cons on both pub­lic and pri­vate lands.

Taskforce members during the Field tour.


(b) A second guided tour was con­ducted approxi­mately one month af­ter commencements of op­erations.  The Taskforce was accom­pa­nied by offi­cials from Pub­lic In­sti­tutions affected by ille­gal invasions namely NSSF, NHC and EAPCC. This tour ex­posed the Taskforce mem­bers to the re­ality as gathered during the hearings.  During this visit, the Taskforce got an oppor­tu­nity to in­ter­act with members of the Pub­lic who were being duped into buying the ille­gal par­cels.  They also experienced, how the work of “illegal surveys and placing of beacons was being done.” 


(c) Other field visits were made from time to time when the need arose to con­firm and verify the re­ports gathered during the hearings.

The field visits provided very valuable and vital information to the Taskforce mem­bers. The mem­bers were able to appre­ciate the magnitude of the crisis and the need for a firm and de­ci­sive intervention by the Gov­ernment.


2.4 PRESENTATION OF MEMO­RANDA

The Taskforce encouraged affected mem­bers of the pub­lic and Public In­sti­tutions to present written memoranda.

There were several written memoranda that were de­liv­ered to the Taskforce tem­po­rary office.  A summary of the memoranda were cap­tured in the matrix appearing in chapter four.

The Taskforce also received other memo­randa that were handed over during public hearings, during visits to cor­po­rate bodies and those delivered at the agreed drop points.


LETTERS OF INVITATION AND SUMMONS

The Taskforce invited in writing all public and state cor­po­rations to present their cases at appointed times.  In­vi­tations were also made to other Government and Public Officers who were considered to be having valuable and vi­tal information of the issue.

Summonses were made to the members of the Public and Law enforcement officers who were adversely mentioned during the public hearings. 

Some of those summoned included the then, District commissioner Athi River Dis­trict Mr Lloyford Kibaara,OCPD Athi River Po­lice Division,DCIO Athi River Police Division,District Officers andArea Chiefs.

Members of the Public and politicians summoned were Nicho­las Nzioka Ndambuki aka Willy Kahore Wanjiku,Former chief Katani Lo­cation Amos Kilonzo Mutinda,Former Councilors; Jo­seph Musau Mutuku, Lilian Nduku Musyemi, Angelina Muteithya, Cosmas Musyoka, Miriam Mwikali Mulei and Peter Mailu.

Special sessions were also arranged for Hon. Wavinya Ndeti Mem­ber of Par­liament for Kathiani Constituency,His worship the Mayor Cllr.  Patrick Makau and his council members,Members of District Se­cu­rity & In­telli­gence Committee (DSIC),District Land Registrar and Dis­trict Sur­veyor, Mavoko Municipal Physical Planning Officer and

5David Masika rep­re­senting the in­ter­ests of Pravin Bowry, Justice T. Mbaluto, Sam Muumbi among others.

6Gallot Industries’ rep­re­sen­tatives.


PUBLIC HEARINGS

The public hearings were mainly con­ducted at the Municipal Council of Mavoko Cham­bers.  The Media was present and other interested parties were free to attend. There were, however, some exceptions where the presenters requested to have their presentations made in camera.  All such requests were respected.

Considering the intricate nature of land matters some sessions took longer periods than the set time of 20 to 30 minutes for each presentation.

This created a spiral effect on the queue.  In order to compensate and cover as many presentations as possible, the Taskforce extended its sitting hours beyond 4.00 p.m. on all days. 

By the close of the Public hearing dates, a sizable number of affected persons re­mained un­heard, necessitating the Taskforce to ex­tend the sitting dates to cover Mondays and Fridays. There was also a one week extension of public hearings due to public demand.

Notwithstanding the closing of the Public hearings, the Taskforce willingly con­tin­ued to receive additional presentations from members of the Public, their legal rep­re­sen­tatives and memos up to the moment of preparing this report.  The in­for­mation received out of time was given equal consideration as the previous ones without bias.  The Taskforce covered as much ground as possible, but remained aware that NOT all affected persons were able to make their presentations.

However, the Taskforce recommendations have covered the entire spectrum and it is expected that they will benefit even those who did not appear or present their spe­cific cases.


PROFESSIONAL BODIES

The Taskforce engaged inputs from various professionals and their institutions when the need arose. Information gathered during the interactions with the professionals as well as in other forums was carefully con­sid­ered when making the final sub­missions of this report.


DOCUMENT VERIFICATION

Title deeds

Letters of allotment and other letters from Ministry of Lands

Land Rent Clearance Certificate – Min­is­try of Lands

Land Rate Clearance Certificate – Mu­nici­pal Council of Mavoko

Certificates of Incorporation and Reg­is­tration

Court Orders


REVIEW OF SUBMISSIONS AND FINDINGS

The Taskforce developed a contemplate struc­ture for reporting as per the nature of its mandate.  The task was extraneous con­sid­ering the large volumes of memo­randa and notes generated during the Public hearings.  Although most of the issues were repetitive and synonymous, the summary and recommendations have been explicitly captured.

It’s worth noting that the Taskforce did get in touch on phone and email with various persons and authorities where further clari­fi­cations were necessary.  This was to ensure their presentations were captured with clarity.

The Taskforce worked diligently to mini­mize error and duplication and where close correlation of a matter arose, the two were captured independently to avoid losing vital details. Extreme care was taken so as not to water down the truth and facts as pre­sented both in the memos and in Public hearings.

As noted in the report, the Taskforce widely explored various options in arriving at clear and concise findings, although the subject matter could have been convoluted and long-winded.

With the above understanding, the Taskforce had reasonable tolerance to arrive at the findings that are within practical and legal structure for both immediate and long term implementation.


REPORT WRITING

The Taskforce engaged professional during compiling the report and give it the high-end finish as presented.

The details as explained above were cap­tured………………………………………..


VALIDATION OF RE­PORT


CHALLENGES AND LIMITATIONS

The Taskforce faced challenges of time, costs and scope.  The taskforce had been given forty five (45) working days within which to submit a report to the Minister of State for Provincial Administration and In­ter­nal Security.  This time was not ad­equate bearing in mind the complexity of the Athi River land issues that required thor­ough in­ves­ti­gations before its asso­ciated problems of classi­fi­cation, appro­priation and use are analysed and con­cep­tu­alized.  The taskforce worked on a tight program often ex­tending working hours beyond 6.00 p.m. to manage the task.


The terms of ref­erence pro­vided that all costs shall be met by the Ministry of State for Pro­vin­cial Ad­min­is­tration and Internal Se­cu­rity.  How­ever, the guide­lines pro­vided by Min­is­try of State for Public Ser­vice through letter Ref. No.  ……….. vide were rather lim­ited.  Whereas the members appealed, and while awaiting the response they con­tin­ued to sacrifice to the extent of using their own means of transport to ven­ues of meetings and incurred personal cost in commu­ni­cation beyond their pro­vision. 


Nonetheless, the Taskforce members appre­ciate the facilitation provided by the Ministry of State for Provincial Ad­min­is­tration and Internal Security and by Municipal Council of Mavoko towards meeting all attendant costs in the pursuit of their mandate.


The scope of the Taskforce as set out in the Terms of Reference was more of a fact finding mission with the clear purpose of making actionable recommendations to the Gov­ernment.

 This explains why the Taskforce felt rather limited in deterring in­vasions, removing land speculators from private and public land or even addressing the many pending land related cases in court as well as the cases brought against the Taskforce in court.  The Taskforce over­came this constraint by focusing their energies on the two classi­fi­cations of land i.e. public and pri­vate lands. 

The public hearings and con­sul­tations with Public Officers such as the  Permanent Sec­re­tary, Min­is­try of State for Provincial ad­min­is­tration and internal se­cu­rity, Hon. Member of Par­liament for Kathiani Con­stituency and  His Worship the Mayor of  Mu­nici­pal Coun­cil of Mavoko served to enrich the scope of the Taskforce




CHAPTER TWO

HISTORICAL BACK­GROUND OF LAND IN ATHI RIVER DIS­TRICT

LAND TENURE SYSTEMS IN KENYA


Land tenure sys­tems in Kenya are diverse and have com­plex in­ter­actions with the so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal, economical and po­litical spheres of the coun­try. The land question in Kenya is one that has aroused the emo­tional and spiri­tual feelings of Kenyans as the re­sulting land-re­lated grievances have be­come in­creasingly politicised and di­vi­sive.


Land is placed in three broad cat­ego­ries and these are:-


1. Public Land

2. Private Land

3. Commu­nity Land



Public Land

Public land com­prises all land owned by the Gov­ernment and dedi­cated to a specified public use or made available for pri­vate uses at the dis­cretion of the Government. The prin­ci­pal law regulating public land is the Gov­ernment Land Act (Cap 280).


Private Land

Private land refers to land held by an in­di­vidual or other entity under freehold or leasehold tenure. Freehold is the largest in­terest on land which the sovereign can grant to an individual. While it confers un­lim­ited rights of use and disposition, it is subject to the regulatory powers of the State.


In Kenya, interests in freehold are in­di­vidually held under the Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281), the Land Titles Act (Cap 282) or the Government Lands Act (Cap 280). The absolute proprietorship was in­tro­duced by the Registered Land Act (Cap 300)


Leasehold involves the derivation of rights from a superior title for a period of time, certain or capable of being ascertained and the enjoyment of such rights in exchange for specific conditions including, but not limited to, the payment of rent. Leasehold tenure provides a flexible mechanism for trans­acting rights in land and for land use control.

 It is a private contractual right sub­ject to the con­ditions imposed by the owner and grants ex­clu­sive rights to the lease­holder. Lease­hold interests are also regu­lated by the Reg­is­tration of Lands Act, Cap 300 along­side other Acts.


Commu­nity Land

Commu­nity land re­fers to land lawfully held, managed and used by a spe­cific commu­nity. This commu­nity land is not held by an in­di­vidual but rather by a mix­ture of per­sonal, familial and eco­nomic re­la­tionships. This creates a powerful sys­tem of land allo­cation regimes and a ten­ure sys­tem designed to pre­serve the asset base for current and fu­ture gen­erations. Fami­lies and in­di­viduals are allo­cated rights to use the land in per­pe­tuity, subject only to effective uti­li­zation. The ul­ti­mate own­ership (radical title) vests in the commu­nity.


For a long time, there was no law regu­lating cus­tomary land own­ership and these land rights re­mained un­reg­is­tered until the mid 1950’s when the process of land ad­ju­di­cation, con­soli­dation and reg­is­tration was in­tro­duced.



CON­FLICT OVER LAND RE­SOURCES IN KENYA

The con­flict over land re­sources in Kenya is traceable to the colonial era and the in­jus­tices inherited by the independent state of Kenya.


The colonial land tenure system operated from the premise that land in Kenya was terra nullius (vacant land) and that Kenyan citizens were “tenants at the will of the Crown.” This meant that Africans (Kenyans) did not have legal own­ership rights to the land they customarily occu­pied but only had what the colonialists regarded as “user rights.”


Land was alienated from customary sys­tems usually without compensation for the use of White Settler Farmers who relied on African labour. Africans (Kenyans) were restricted to the native reserves which formed the basis for ethnically-defined ad­min­is­trative units – the precursors of present day districts, divisions and lo­cations.


By 1934, European Settlers, who rep­re­sented only about 1% of the Kenyan population at the time, controlled all arable land in Kenya whereas the natives were moved to the re­serves completely alienated from cus­tomary land controls. All the highly po­ten­tial agricultural areas in Kenya were classified and registered as freeholds or leaseholds to select White Settlers who had authority from the British Crown Gov­ernment.


At independence, what was known as Crown Land became categorised as Government Land which unfortunately included the commu­nal and ancestral lands of many local Kenyan communities. Legislation regu­lating Government land at the time did not pro­tect public interest as regards the stewardship or utilization of these lands. The President had exclusive powers over un-alienated government land to make grants which were exercised through the Commissioner of Lands. Therefore land could be alienated from customary ownership and allocated to institutions and individuals.  


LAND TENURE IN ATHI RIVER DIS­TRICT

Most of the land in Athi River District was purely agricultural land and was owned by White Settlers in the form of cattle ranches, sisal estates and cereal farms. Among the cattle ranches included the Beacon Ranch, Lukenya Ranch and the Ngelani Farm. The sisal estates included Katani and Lukenya-Kinanie among others. The Syokimau farm was a famous cereal farm.

After independence, some of the lands held by the White Settlers were purchased by some private individuals and land buying companies while others reverted back to the Government of Kenya. The local wananchi were then advised to organise themselves and form co-operative so­ci­eties who would then be allocated parcels of land upon the payment of a prescribed fee.


Several local co-operative societies were formed and included:- Katani-Mitaboni, Syokimau, Drumvale, Lukenya and Ngelani Co-operative Societies among others. Upon acquiring the lands, the co-operative societies then sub­di­vided the land amongst their shareholders who were later issued with freehold title deeds to their par­cels of land. The Co-operative Societies also set aside some land for public utilities such as schools, health facilities, ad­min­is­trative centres, recreational cen­tres, churches and access roads.


Genesis of Land Conflict in Athi River District

During the sub-divisions of the lands by the Co-operative Societies, many anoma­lies arose.

Most of the people who were working in the ranches could not afford to buy shares in the society and therefore could not be allocated land leaving them landless. Lands reserved for public utilities were fraudu­lently sold off by some of the offi­cials of the Co-operative Societies whereas some were settled on by the former landless workers.

It is observed that some of the people genu­inely acquired land and registered them in their names, but most of the illegal occupations and irregular acquisitions were never addressed.

In the recent years, Local Authorities have further perpetrated the irregularities and illegalities by sub-dividing and selling off to private individuals some of the land ear­marked for public utilities.


Squatter Situation

The squatter problem in Kenya and par­ticu­larly in Athi River District can also be traced to the colonial times when the “natives” were moved to the reserves. The emergence of a select few as a wealthy land-owning class created a larger group of poor landless classes who later turned into landless “squatters” unable to register any land that they occupied for several successive generations.


Some of the squatters were formerly workers on the White Settler farms who continued to live on the farms even after the White Settlers had left and the farms had been purchased by the Co-operative So­ci­eties, Companies and Private in­di­viduals. Most of these were the people who could not afford to acquire shares in the Societies to be allocated land.  However, they remained in occupation and several successive generations later, they are still regarded as squatters as they do not own even the land they have occupied for a num­ber of years. Some of the farms affected by the squatter problem in Athi River are:-

I.              Lukenya Ranch

II.            Ngelani Ranch

III.           Mitaboni Katani Ranch

                (Katani – Mitaboni Ranch)

IV.           Katelembo Ranch

V.             Drumvale Ranch                                  

In addition, there were some former workers of the defunct Kenya Meat Commission, Tanning Factory, Sisal Fac­to­ries at Kinanie, Coral Paints and Katani who became homeless with no source of income. They started looking for areas of occupation and thus created the in­for­mal settlements. These informal settlements (slum-dwellings) are scattered all over the Athi River District and include:-

I.              Kimongo I & II at Kinanie

                with about 1,000 squatters

II.            City Carton with over 2000                                 squatters

III.           Canaan with over 2000 squatters

IV.           Bondeni

V.             Slum 39

VI.           Kyelenzi Slum

VII.          Kasoito

VIII.         Kisumu Ndogo


In total, it is estimated that there are over 10,000 squatters living in these informal settlements in Athi River District. Most of these informal settlements are occu­pying pub­lic utility and privately owned lands.


The National Land Policy has proposed some reforms in order to deal with the ‘squatters’ and informal settlements. The Government should:-

(a) Create a regime of secondary land rights as a means of improving se­cu­rity in informal/spontaneous settlements;


(b) Recognize and protect the rights of informal land occupiers and guar­an­tee their security of tenure; and


(c) Establish a legal framework and put in place procedures for transferring unutilized land and land belonging to ab­sen­tee landlords to ‘squatters’ and landless people.


This squatter problem is what led to the con­cept of self-land acquisition-”Ngwata”.


Self-land acquisition phenomenon (Ngwata) in Athi River District

The application of Ngwata (Kamba word to denote self-land acquisition) was first no­ticed on the parcel of land situated at Mlolongo Area between the old Mombasa Road and the Syokimau Stream. The area had been planned for quarry plots and allocated to business per­sons involved in quarrying ac­tivities who had ex­hausted their mining operations in Kayole Area, Nairobi.


When the first quarry at the Mlolongo Site started operating, it was realized that the blasting was affecting commu­ni­cation in­stallations at the nearby Directorate of Civil Aviation.  The quarrying op­erations were then stopped and the owners allo­cated alternative land East of Mlolongo Town, about seven Ki­lo­me­ters away, in exchange for the old sites.

In 1998, the area political leaders re­alized that the previous owners of the quarries had accepted the new sites but con­tin­ued to hold on to the old sites.  They en­couraged groups of people to invade the Mlolongo site which was arbitrarily sub­di­vided amongst the in­vaders. This is what became famously known as “Ngwata Phase I.”

These invaders led by the local political leaders then formed a Self Help Group known as Quarry Site Self-Help Group that was later reg­is­tered to oversee the sur­vey and allo­cation of the sub plots.  This self-help group was later registered as Mavoko Land Development Com­pany Ltd which settled their members on the land. The area has since been completely de­vel­oped.

The original allotees of the Mlolongo quarry site protested over the invasion and entered into negotiations with the Self Help Group whereby it was agreed that the invaders should raise money as compensation to the business men.  However, some of the business men were not agreeable and opted to take the matter to court. The case has not been con­cluded to date.


It was established that the Town Clerk and Councillors from the Municipal Council of Mavoko were involved in the above illegal invasions. They arrogated themselves the re­spon­si­bility of issuing the allottees with Temporary Letters of Allotment (TOL) so as to give the allotees some confidence in their occupation of the land.

In 2006-2007, the Government through the then Minister for Lands Hon. Kivutha Kibwana decided to form a Special Committee to address the Ngwata issue. Since some of the original land owners had been paid off, the Special Committee rec­ommended that the area be re-planned and the settlement regularized.  They were then issued with Letters of Allotment by the Commissioner of Lands. However, some portions of this settlement are still under dis­pute and now extends to Ngwata Phase IIA and III.

The Taskforce established that the above sce­nario set a precedent which has since been replicated in several other areas. Land specu­lators have taken advantage of the apparent squatter problem (landless people) to invade public and private lands in Athi River District in a disguised bid to secure land for this category of people. These current land speculators mainly target un­fenced and un­occu­pied parcels of land and even acquire fake “titles” which they use to sell the land to unsuspecting buyers.

Some buyers have gone further and de­vel­oped both residential and commercial properties which are massive investments in a bid to give the perception of genuinety of own­ership. This creates a presumption that such in­vestments could not be de­mol­ished be­cause of the attendant cost implications and the spi­ral effects that would go along with such an action for de­mol­ishment.

The legitimate owners are prevented access to their lands and some have been violently attacked by the invading gangs when they attempt to take possession of their prop­erties. Several of these cases have been reported authorities and captured in this report.

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