Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has said that at least 700 plots of land in Nairobi are in the hands of land grabbers.
He said the extent of the rot came to light after an investigation to authenticate land records in the county.
Speaking at the launch of Mutuini Modern Market in Dagoreti South on Wednesday, the Governor said his team is now working to reclaim such land and use it to build modern markets and other public facilities such as schools.
"We have since found 600 plots of abandoned land in Nairobi. I took the interns to the committee room and they went through the county minute book from the time of the county councils since the 1970s. So far, we've found 700 plots and we're working on reclaiming them," said Governor Sakaja.
Mutuini Ward is one of the areas affected by land grabbing and the county recently reclaimed the 2.4 acres of prime land at Dagoretti Market along Dagoretti/Karen Road that was previously in the hands of land grabbers.
The governor has asked those in possession of public land in Nairobi to start surrendering it before the county moves to reclaim it by force.
"If you are in the habit of grabbing public land in Nairobi, please find another county, not Nairobi County. Even if I'm not in power, I'll still be around and you won't get away with it. Just give it back to the people of Nairobi.
The governor said land grabbing was a major problem the county was currently fighting, but assured residents that he would not relent until the stolen plots were recovered.
"I recently found 55 acres of prime land in Roysambu that belongs to the county and people have already started fencing it off. Let them find another place. We have another 18 acres in Fourways and people have gone to court saying Sakaja is grabbing the land when the records are very clear that the land belongs to the Nairobi County government".
The governor said Embakasi East, Tassia area is another part of the district where cases of land grabbing are higher.
On job creation, the Governor assured the youth in Mutuini area that they will be considered by the contractor, but expressed concern over the rising cases of drug abuse in the area.
"This habit of brokers coming to take control of the markets must stop because the people whose lives we want to change are ordinary women and the youth."
The area's Member of Parliament, John Kiarie, commended the governor for standing firm and ensuring that traders and the people of Mutuini have access to the market.
"You assured us during the campaigns that you would give the trading list to your deputy and you instructed him to ensure that the first market under you is this one in Mutuini," said Mr Kiarie.
Mutuini ward representative Martin Mbugua said residents were happy and ready to participate in the construction of the market.
"Once the market is ready, no one from outside should be given the space before the local traders are taken care of," said Mr Mbugua.
The market is being built at a cost of Sh244 million and is the first of 20 new modern markets that the governor promised residents during the election campaign.