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City estate where armed gang rules land ownership matters

A yellow placard in the middle of a fiery demonstration last week along Nairobi’s Kangundo Road stood out: “Kiambu Dandora Farmer’s Company Limited, Umoja III is not your colony,” it screamed in protest over harassment by suspected land grabbing gangs.

But as the tyres burnt on the tarmac and residents vented their anger, blocking the road for hours, two more houses were brought down over a dispute in the expansive piece of land, estimated at 800 acres.

Within hours, foundations had been dug up and new structures belonging to a “new owner” were beginning to take shape in place of the two houses under construction that had just been demolished.

FERRIED VIGILANTE

Vigilantes ferried from neighbouring Dandora and Korogocho stood nearby providing cover to the workers as residents watched in disbelief.

By last Friday morning, construction of one of the new houses had already reached the first floor. Such takeover scenes are not uncommon along Kangundo Road where vicious land sharks are reselling already occupied land or grabbing unoccupied land then dealing ruthlessly with those that stand in their way. This has been going on for years but it boiled over in recent weeks.

As the Sunday Nation found out, a typical grabbing, sale and resale of land in the area is common. Cartels going by various names like self-help groups, land societies, saccos or simply mradi (project) lay claim to a piece of land, subdivide it and sell portions with certificates or receipts issued as proof of ownership.

The cartels then provide protection at a fee and resist any move of reclamation by the legally registered land owners. Some of the buyers, our sources say, are aware that the land is illegally acquired but are assured that they will not be evicted. Others are, however, unsuspecting victims lured by a good deal.

DOUBLE ALLOCATIONS

One common rule is that buyers should not leave the land idle but must put up a structure immediately. In some instances, there are double allocations, especially when a buyer delays to develop the property.

To complicate the situation, there are indications that police officers, county government officials and politicians also benefit from such illegally acquired land in exchange for protection — fuelling a cycle of disputes that sometimes turn violent and take an ethnic slant.

Read the full story here.

SOURCE: Sunday Nation