Mombasa — The Government programme to resolve the longstanding land problem in the Coast region kicked off on Friday as President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the issuance of 60,000 title deeds.
During the event at Karisa Maitha Stadium in Kilifi County, the President promised that the Jubilee Government would issue three million title deeds to Kenyans in the next five years.
He said the issuance of the land ownership documents was fulfilment of a promise he made during the March General Election to Coast residents that he would resolve the land problem in the region.
"We said the land question in Kenya is an issue that has been there for over 50 years and we pledged that if we won the elections, we would end the land question and bring the land answer," said President Kenyatta.
Kilifi County which received 19,000 title deeds is among the areas affected by unregistered lands and with a high number of squatters.
The President said the title deeds have been lying unissued in the Lands Ministry for so many years and thanked the ministry for their diligence in fast tracking the issuance of the title deeds.
He also praised Coast leaders for supporting the issuance of the land ownership documents instead of introducing partisan and petty politics that would deny deserving citizens a chance to benefit from their rightful inheritance.
"I thank Coast leaders for transcending petty politics and co-operating with the government so that we can unite and serve the people who elected us. We agreed we cannot do this in the environment of hostility and politicking," said President Kenyatta.
The president welcomed a call by Coast leaders for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), County Government and the National Government to pool resources together to finance and hasten issuance of title deeds in the county.
"It is only surveying and adjudication that could delay the process but if County, Constituency Development Committees and the National Government unite, we can complete the issuance of title deeds in the county within two years," said the President.
He said the 60,000 title deeds to be issued in the region are worth Sh20 billion and should be used to unlock the wealth of the area and change livelihoods of residents.
"If we choose to fully deal with poverty and create wealth in Kenya, we must resolve the land question to enable wananchi unlock the country's wealth," he said.
President Kenyatta said the title deeds would be issued free of charge and warned lands officials that they would face stern action if they demand money from ignorant recipients of the title deeds.
Deputy President William Ruto said that the title deeds issuance was not a political affair but driven by the Government's realization that land and squatter problem was a big challenge in the county.
"This is not about politics. We believe the people of this county and region have legitimate problems. You are Kenyans and deserve service," he said.
He said the Government was ready to work with all elected leaders irrespective of their party affiliation in order to deliver service to all Kenyans.
"We want to be clear to all leaders. Nobody was elected by mistake but legitimately. Now we should focus on development and service delivery," he said.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu said the title deeds issuance system has been digitised and warned she would cancel any title deeds in the hands of land grabbers keen on dispossessing poor citizens.
(Story by Munyasya Musya)