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NLC to probe Bungoma airstrip land grab

19 February 2015, 10:22 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The National Land Commission (NLC) top officials plan to tour Bungoma County to investigate the reported claims of grabbing of the Bungoma Airstrip land and other public lands within the town.

The NLC Chairman, Muhammad Swazuri who will lead a team of investigators to the County before end of March this year, vowed to use the law to evict anyone who irregularly acquired public land.  

"We will tour the County before March 20 to ascertain the truth and invoke Section 155 of the Lands Act. We will give two weeks’ notice to anyone who unlawfully occupied public land to vacate, failure to which eviction will be done,” said Swazuri.

Bumula MP, Bonface Otsiula who raised the matter when Swazuri appeared before the Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee confirmed that the over 10-acre airstrip land has been massively grabbed, making it difficult to expand.

“Mansions are built on the grabbed airstrip land and it cannot be expanded to allow flight services. We are forced to go to Kisumu or Eldoret to catch flights to Nairobi or any part of the country,” said Otsiula.

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“How did one acquire a title deed of land for the airstrip? NLC has powers to seize and demolish any structures built on public land because a thief has no right to ownership of public property,” he added.

Kanduyi MP, Wafula Wamunyinyi whose area of jurisdiction covers the airstrip, confirmed that land grabbing by civil servants, Asian private developers and powerful officers has been on rise particularly within Bungoma town.

“I have been in the fight against land grabbing in Bungoma town and with support from nearby communities, we appealed to the National Land Commission investigate the issue and we are ready to support Swazuri during his tour,” said Wamunyinyi.

He revealed that about five acres piece of airstrip land has been grabbed and fenced in addition to most plots in residential quarters of civil servants.

“Much land has been illegally acquired by private developers without any action and this is total impunity. Civil servants’ houses in Kilimani area, Kanduyi open-air-market, the Kenya Railways, Posta Grounds and a cattle auctioneering space within the town are among the grabbed land,” said Wamunyinyi.

Public land grabbing menace has been on rise across the country, compelling affected institutions and communities to stage demonstrations for both the Lands Ministry and NLC to move with haste to address the issue.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently put public land grabbers on notice and directed the Lands Cabinet Secretary, Charity Ngilu and Swazuri ensure every public institution is issued with a title deed to curb incidents of the grabbing.  

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