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Residents of Shimoni in Kwale want 700 title deeds revoked



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More than 8,000 residents of Shimoni in Kwale County want 700 title deeds issued last year by the government revoked.

Speaking to the Nation in Shimoni on Wednesday, the locals from eight villages said the issuance process was flawed and a new one should be initiated.

They said a complete survey to nullify other two previous surveys done on their land must be carried.

“There were a lot of irregularities and land fraud in the survey that happened here. As a result, many of the title deeds have errors and are of little help to the holders,” said Mohamed Shee, the chairman of the Shimoni Development Initiative, a group formed last year to advocate for the rights of residents.

The residents claimed the title deeds issued to them did not correspond well with the land they own while several people were listed as owning a piece of land in one title deed.

The most affected villages are Mwazaro, Anzuani, Majengo, Shimoni Centre, Changaraweni, Makaburini, Mbuyuni, Kichakmkwaju and Changai.

Mr Shee said the original land owners were left out during the survey and distribution.

As such, residents ended up without titles to property they had called theirs for years.

He further blamed land officers, accusing them of colluding with fraudsters to deny them the right to own land.

“We have written to Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya asking him to intervene over the land injustices in Shimoni. We want all title deeds issued to alleged land owners in this area revoked, the first reason being that the locals were left out in getting titles, most of which were issued to non-locals,” he said.

Mr Shee said that they are worried that they may end up losing on compensation should the government go ahead and implement the Sh20 billion Shimoni port project.

“Because we don’t have any documents to support ownership or the titles deeds don’t give proper information on land owners, then with the coming Shimoni port, it will be difficult to get compensation for our lands.

“We understand that the project might take a big chunk of the land in Shimoni. The survey process must begin afresh and the real land owners identified and given title deeds,” he added.

Another resident, Amina Diwani, told the Nation that an unjust allocation of land has made many of the residents to be squatters as non-locals lay claim to own land in Shimoni.

“There is a problem here because much as we are the indigenous people here, new faces have been flocking the village. We have lived here for many years and it would be unfortunate when someone appears with a title deed claiming ownership. It is happening here and we are not happy as locals,” she said.

Athuman Fadhili, also a resident, called on the National Land to look into the land issues afresh in order to avoid future conflicts in the area.

When contacted over the claims, Lunga Lunga Deputy County Commissioner Josphat Biwott said the government is aware of the land ownership wrangles in Shimoni.

He added that the government will next week meet with the residents to iron out some of the issues as a way of looking for a solution.

“We are planning to have a meeting with the locals to register their grievances pertaining land ownership and try to have a solution,” he said.

Mr Biwott urged the residents not to sell their land as this has contributed to land wrangles in the sub-county.