Mombasa residents have expressed complete confidence in the National Land Commission’s ability to address their decades’ long land grievances.
Residents whose cases were admitted for Historical Land Injustices (HLI) hearings thronged the Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA), all clinging to the Commission as a last straw to their waning hope of ever owning land.
Today marked the first day of the hearings in which the HLI Secretariat, under the leadership of Commissioner Prof. James Tuitoek alongside Commissioners Hon. Esther Murugi, Hon. Tiyah Galgalo and Hubbie Hussein, kicked off in the Coastal city, marking the beginning of the five-day exercise.
A big chunk of cases revolved around tenancy-at-will, absentee landlords and squatters, issues that residents termed unique to the region.
For instance, Majengo ya Simba residents in Sparki, represented by Haji Mwinyi, traced the origin of their alleged historical land injustice to colonial period.
“Those with title deeds are foreigners and not locals. There was forceful occupation as a result of colonization,” he said.
The residents made up of 33 households decried the increased ground rates which they compared to colonial hard taxes imposed on Africans.
Kisauni and Nyali House Owners represented by Mohamed Omar and Nagib Shamsan called for a redefinition of the term ‘squatters’, explaining that the word has been used wrongly to deny rightful home owners their right to own land.
Other cases brought before the panel were those of Ngome Village, Tononoka(Kaloleni) residents,, Kiziwi Self Help Group, Mbugoni residents welfare group among others.
The issue of waqf deed, also predominantly came out as an hindrance to residents owning properties.
According to Shamsan, who is former Commissioner of the WAQF Commission of Kenya, some fraudulent individuals are hiding under religion in the name of waqf thus denying deserving Kenyans an opportunity to own land.
He explained that as opposed to collecting land rates or any form of charge, some people claiming to be administrators of waqf Commission have been swindling unsuspecting home owners of millions of shillings in the name of ground rent and land rates.
He stated that only 110 waqf properties in Mombasa are registered under the Waqf Commission in Kenya against 880 on the ground.
Waqf deed involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets.
Among issues raised by residents were ; alleged frequent threats by land owners, failed remittance of land rates by land owners despite their remittance, inability to renovate or develop their structures and increased insecurity.
Meanwhile, Mombasa County government through Director of Land Administration Rose Munupe, called for regularization of all parcels of lands involving tenancy at will.
NLC Deputy Director Research, Dr. Mary Wandia, acting head of HLI Secretariat, Edmond Gichuru, Mombasa County Coordinator Edward Bosire and several staff attended the hearings.
Prof. Tuitoek assured members of the public of an objective listening to and fair determination of all cases brought before the panel.

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