Kiplombe squatters' relief: Government issues titles amid KDF land dispute

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

More than 1,000 squatters embroiled in a battle for more than 5,000 acres of land with the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) in Uasin Gishu County can sigh with relief after the government promised them title deeds.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale has promised the Kiplombe Farm Squatters title deeds for a section of the disputed land, where the local community and the military have clashed over ownership.

Four locals were killed on the disputed land under unclear circumstances last November.

CS Duale on Thursday visited the "Nine Farms" field in Kiplombe, which is part of the land in dispute, stating that the government is committed to solving the issue permanently and amicably.

Duale said his ministry has already directed surveyors to start surveying the land in readiness for the issuance of title deeds.

A tough-speaking Duale directed Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale to implement the directive and to provide security to surveyors.

The CS was accompanied by local leaders led by Governor Jonathan Bii, Senator Jackson Mandago and area MP Janet Sitienei, among others.

He stressed that his directive was the government's position.

“This land belongs to you. Guard it by all means as we embark on plans to issue you with title deeds,” Duale said amid cheers from the squatters.

The CS said the title deeds process will be presided over by senior government surveyors and completed in the next four months. He warned local leaders against interfering with the land.

“County commissioners give firm and decisive instructions to all your officers including, DCC, ACC, chiefs, and sub-chiefs. What I have said here is the language and the position of our National Government and our President William Ruto to ensure that this directive is implemented,” said Duale.

“Be very firm as county security chairman and deal with cartels who are claiming to own a section of this land using fake title deeds,” said Mr Duale.

The local leaders hailed the government directive, saying it was long overdue.

“Kiplombe people have waited for so long and today their patience has been fulfilled. As local leaders, we thank the government and we are going to provide any support required from us to ensure our people get the title deeds,” said Governor Bii.

The CS warned cartels claiming they own genuine title deeds of the land. He said that some of the cartels have been sending him text messages to help them secure the land with a promise of giving him a kickback of 100 acres of the same land.

Ministry of Lands Principal Secretary Nixon Korir said his officers will work with all stakeholders to ensure the process of surveying the land is done and completed within the time frame given by the government.

The PS said some individuals have been derailing the process of allocating the land to genuine squatters through court cases. He said that the government will not be derailed by cartels using courts to curtail the issuance of title deeds and will work with targeted beneficiaries to fast-track the issuance of the land ownership document.

Other senior government officers present during the meeting included Defence PS Patrick Mariru, KDF Major General Jeff Nyaga, in charge of Western Command, and Lieutenant General Charles Kahariri, Vice Chief Defence Forces.

Despite the directive, KDF has previously insisted the squatters be relocated for safety reasons.

A year ago, Duale formed a technical committee and tasked it to recommend solutions to the dispute.

Duale affirmed that the KDF intends to remain in good relations with the local community to enable them to discharge their core mandate of defending the country.