Keep Your Titles; Give Us Our Land

| Owen Yaa Baya


The Mau Mau in Kenya fought for land and they got it. Shujaa Mekatili wa Menza and her compatriots fought for land but they did not get it. When they thought they had it in their hands and it was time to rest, new Mr. Champions emerged, whose trickery was more dangerous because they held documents called title deeds that took away what the heroine and her people fought for.

Today, the daughters and sons of Mekatilili are settled on the land of their forefathers but have a new title: “squatters”. It is a title that can only change when someone in Nairobi says “yes, that is your land” and provides a title deed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta descends into Mombasa followed by a Kenya Police plane carrying 60,000 land titles to be issued to squatters. Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his men gather to decry the move to dish out titles, as one Dr. Muhamud Swazuri, the Chairman of the National Lands Commission says with certainty that his commission does not know anything about the business. He adds that some of those titles probably started being processed in the ‘80s.

Then the Lands Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary enters the fray saying due diligence has been done with the full involvement of the local people. But wait a minute PS Mariamu, how was the consultation done with full involvement with the local people if their elected leaders know nothing about the exercise? Maybe it was done on Facebook, Whatsapp or Twitter? Or probably via personal calls to the beneficiaries and chiefs and assistant chiefs? Maybe county commissioners were consulted?

Integrity issues have repeatedly been raised about the goings on at Ardhi house. If the same Ardhi house processed these documents in just a few days, then chances are the information used to come up with the titles is highly suspect.

The owner of the land and the owner of the title deed must be the same person. Anything else is a clear recipe for chaos. A case in point is the Chembe, Kanani, Kibaba Muche area. If the government has now processed land titles for these areas then there is almost sure to be  trouble as what is on record is not what is on the ground.

What fuels the suspicion that the bulk of these titles are going to non-Coastals is the political angle to the whole matter. A title deed is a private matter. It actually is part of private property. Why would a whole head of state come to give local residents land titles? Whose benefit is it for in the long run? It must be for the president and therefore cannot be a sign of goodwill.

If it truly was an olive branch, the national government should have allowed county governments to participate in vetting the lists through the ward representatives. The titles would then have been sent to the county governor’s office awaiting the arrival of the president to issue them.

Handling this matter in a proper way would have indeed helped the president come closer to endearing himself to the people of the coast who voted against him almost to a man. One of the reasons that the people of the coast did not vote for the president was land. There was suspicion that like his father he would not give issues of land at the Coast a meaningful hearing. And now when he looks like he would like to prove his critics wrong his handlers are now getting the whole thing wrong.

All said and done, let the coast people be assured of their land. Let each and every person feel and know that there is a genuine mechanism to ensure that they have land they can settle on, and that no one can come to unsettle them from their ancestral lands because of a piece of paper. The national government would rather keep their titles but ensure that people have land they can call their own to settle on. Titles can come thereafter.


| 30 Aug 2013


Garbage Dumpers Take a Verbal Thrashing

| John Maina

Unlicensed garbage collectors who use carts in Mombasa County are facing the heat
for the oceans of garbage that are threatening to swallow the entire city.

Experts in the industry and residents alike accuse them of dumping anywhere and everywhere after they have collected the garbage from their customers. Most of these garbage collectors use carts and polythene paper bags to collect garbage but instead of taking the trash to the dump-site or various designated collection points around the county, they continue to dump in restricted areas especially those that pose a hazard to the residents and are an eyesore for the city.
The acting city manager for Mombasa, Martin Achal, says garbage collection is a challenge for the county government because most people live in the central business district; generating more garbage than the authorities can handle, especially as the county garbage trucks are almost always in need of service.

Achal says of the sixteen trucks used in garbage collection, only eight are functioning. Having this addressed, and imposing heavy penalties on those dumping illegally, would alleviate the situation greatly, he says.

He said they have information that some people give bribes to the city askaris who man the areas that are not designated for dumping so they can allow illegal dumping. He says the county will take action on those they catch in the act.

However, Stella Abooka, a private garbage collector puts the blame squarely on the authorities and unregistered garbage collection outfits who she says only compound the problem by not following the law.

She suggests that the police should take action on them for risking the lives of locals.

“Some of these people give garbage collectors in general a bad name. The public should be only hire approved cleaning services and garbage collection firms,” she told CTW.

High cost

The business of garbage collection is an expensive affair since prices charged by the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council have doubled since last year. This in the long term raises the cost of operations for anyone who is involved with trash collection business in Mombasa County.

On the use of plastic bags for garbage collection services, Ms. Abooka says that her company uses the bags because they know that they are going to take the garbage to the right place at Mwakirunge dump-site where there are people who collect plastic bags for recycling purposes.

More Than 4000 litres Of Illicit Brew Impounded

| M’bwana Omar

As the government puts in measures to eliminate all illicit brews, liters of intoxicant were poured and equipment destroyed at Bangladesh Changamwe district of Mombasa County during a raid aimed at arresting the distillers.

Illicit brew

During the raid 100 liters of chang’aa, 4000 liters of kangara, 400 grams of bhang were recovered and 3 suspects arrested.

According to one of the distillers, Everlyn Nambuya, the brewers have been in the business for the past five years as their only means for sustenance.

Mrs Nambuya said since her husband died a while ago, she has engaged in the business and used the money to pay school fees for her children. She said the prohibitive license fees of opening a registered bar, and the high cost of renting stall as some of the reason why slum dwellers take the easy way out.

“Chang’aa and kangara are like our husbands, she said.

The haul that was poured down the drain is estimated to be worth at least Ksh. 40,000.

Speaking on behalf of the residents and others, Mrs. Nambuya urged the government to give them ample time to source for alternative business that was legitimate.

In response, the Assistant County Commissioner, Kennedy Gitonga Murungi said that the raids will continue until all perpetrators are brought to book

Murungi warned all those involved in the sale, transportation, storage, as well as usage of these products, that the government was watching them and that they would face the full force of the law.


Uhuru efficiency order causes jitters at KPA

| Ishaq Jumbe

New directives by President Uhuru Kenyatta that are meant to streamline efficiency at the Port of Mombasa is putting pressure on the top management of the Port to deliver within the shortest time possible.

portThe President has ordered that Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA’s) Customs Department be based at the Port and report directly to Mr. Gichiri Ndua, the Managing Director. This means that Mr. Ndua will drive the turn-around with no excuse that has been the norm in the past of frustration from other government agencies that take part in facilitation of faster cargo clearance.

The new directives come after a consultative meeting between the President and all Government agencies that are involved in cargo clearance at State House in Nairobi.

Sources confirmed to Coast This Week that the directives now put pressure on Mr. Ndua and that his job is already on the line should there be no turn-around in a month’s time. The spotlight is now on the MD whose contract was renewed by the former Transport Minister Amos Kimunya before the lapse of the last Government.

The new vigour by the Jubilee Government is underlined by a visit by Uhuru when he was still President-elect and those that worked with him at Treasury, when he was Minister, saying that he is keen on making Mombasa Port competitive.

“He has always been concerned why the Port was not efficient and he is determined to have it work soonest,” said a close aide to the President, who wished not to be named as he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the President.

The President is also believed to be ready to overhaul the Port management should they fail to implement the new directives.

At the same time, lobbying for the Chairman of the KPA Board of Directors is in high gear after the expected lapse of the current chairman, Mr. Shukri Barmadi’s tenure. He has served three terms and during his time he has spearheaded notable developments at the port including the ongoing construction of the second Container Terminal. It is not clear if he is interested in seeking the chairmanship again.

The new 24-hour operations directive also puts banks and clearing and forwarding companies on their toes with threats that should they be seen to be an impediment, their operating licenses would be withdrawn.

Meantime, in the raft of proposed changes, the Head of State also ordered the immediate digitization of the clearing process and the modernization of weighing of cargo. He further ordered the upgrading of Simba system and fast-tracking of the single window system that will automate the clearing process.

The President wants the Transshipment Bond abolished with immediate effect. He further said Clearing and Forwarding Service companies and transit sheds located inside the Port should be removed to ease congestion. Many local bigwigs have sheds and CFS’s within the Port.

“It is a nightmare directive by the President. It was unthinkable two months ago that the CFS’ and sheds which are owned by some of the richest and well connected individuals in Mombasa would be removed from the Port area,” said an employee of one of the CFS’.

President Kenyatta said preferential treatment will be given to goods that are pre-certified and issued with certificates of conformity from the port of origin as opposed to those which will not have been certified.

The Head of State further said that a KEBS laboratory in Mombasa should be in place by 2014 to avoid relying on the laboratory in Nairobi which causes delays.

To ease traffic congestion, President Kenyatta said the Government will prioritize the construction of a dual carriageway from Changamwe to Jomvu.

The President also ordered the formation of a special committee tasked with the responsibility of rejuvenating the railway transport system so as to accommodate more cargo, saying this will also reduce destruction of roads as well as road carnage.

He said weighbridges will also be modernized, adding that container goods weighed at Mariakani and with untampered seal will be allowed to travel to Malaba without further inspection at police roadblocks.

The President pointed out that roadblocks will be replaced with mobile traffic surveillance. In this regard, President Kenyatta urged the private sector to support the electronic vehicle tracking system to take effect without further delay.”

KPA Public Relations Manager Mr. Bernard Osero said the port is ready to handle the directive and believe they have the capacity to improve for the better.

“It is a positive move that is going to improve the effectiveness of the port and ease congestion in a big way. The president’s intervention is very timely. We at the port were able to implement the retired president’s Kibaki’s directive on 24 hour operations without a hitch and we are equally ready to implement what the president ordered,” he said in an interview.

He confirmed that meetings have been held to fast track the president’s edict and already the groundwork to accommodate the Commissioner of Customs and all the other players are being put in place.

“Kenya is very strategic and the port in particular is a government facility and therefore it is in order to have the Presidents involvement without the media reading mischief in instruction,” he said.

Mr. Wellington Kiverenge, the acting Kenya Transport Association (KTA) CEO said that he was positive that the move will ease congestion at the port. “We laud the president for stepping in to help the users of the port. With the banks and the clearing firms threatened with license revocation, the process should be easier now as opposed to what they were used to having in the past,” he said.

He said his members, with trucks estimated at 10,000 are looking forward to an effective 24 hour service.