Two groups of widows and widowers have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to help them recover 40 acres of land near Isiolo International Airport allegedly grabbed by wealthy and influential persons in collusion with rogue land officials.
The encroachers have erected beacons and fenced part of the land on the Isiolo-Muriri road. The groups, with a total of 130 members, say they obtained the land from the defunct county council in 1997.
The groups, People Like Us and Isiolo Vision of Hope, said they were living in fear due to the protracted row over ownership with the encroachers that arose five years after they got the property.
The row, they said, prevented them from developing the property and using it as collateral for loans, adding that the majority of them live at the ‘mercy’ of their neighbours.
Their leader, Hussein Mohammed, appealed to the Head of State to validate the land and issue title deeds to them so that they could develop the property and settle down.
“He (President) last week launched a national title deeds issuance programme and we appeal to him to consider us because we have suffered for the last 20 years due to a dispute over land which belongs to us,” Mr Mohammed said.
President Kenyatta flagged off the issuing of one million title deeds that are part of six million that are ready across registries in various counties.
The group, at a meeting in Isiolo town, said they had minutes for the 1997 meeting where the land was allocated to them and that their numerous appeals to Governor Mohamed Kuti’s administration had not been answered.
“We have repeatedly raised concerns with our elected leaders and the county government to no avail,” said Ms Asha Bonaya, who is disabled.
Many widows who are elderly and cannot fend for themselves rely on selling khat (miraa) on the Isiolo-Moyale highway to get food.
Sakuye council of elders official Omar Waqo said eight women had died during the period, leaving behind their children with no one to take care of them.
“It is sad that none of our leaders have come to our aid but you will see them asking us to reelect them,” he said.
They lamented that some people were dumping soil and rocks on the land, terming it a plan to scare them away.
Ms Fatuma Omar asked President Kenyatta to intervene and resolve the issue before he leaves office after the August elections.
“We are hopeless and have no one to look up to. We beg him to consider our request and protect us from the grabbers and validate the land for us,” she said.
Mr Mohammed said reports over the matter previously shared with the five local MPs had not been answered.
“It is time we elect leaders with community interests at heart because had they (leaders) been considerate and concerned, this issue could have been resolved”.
Lack of the ownership documents, especially in Wabera, Bulapesa, Burat and Ngaremara, continues to hinder development of commercial and residential properties due to legal battles that have left the plots idle.
Isiolo County Land executive Yusuf Dahir did not respond to calls and text messages from the Nation seeking comment.