Tharaka Nithi’s Long-Delayed Land Adjudication Starts.
In May 2019, Chief Josphat Mayau Mukengu and Chuka OCS Joseph Kinyua were killed in separate horrific incidents, turning the country’s spotlight on the sleepy Kamaindi village in Tharaka Nithi County.
The chief had been sent by then Igambang’ombe Deputy County Commissioner Fred Masinjila to solve a dispute between his brother Gikware Mukengu and a villager whose goats had encroached on the former’s land.
The following day, Mr Kinyua was hacked to death with an axe in Ugweri, Runyenjes Constituency, by a suspect in the chief’s murder that he was pursuing in Embu County. The suspect, David Ikaba, was also shot dead by police.
Kamaindi Location is in Igambang’ombe Sub-County, about 30km from Chuka town, and five kilometres from the county’s Kathwana headquarters.
Kamaindi, which means “a place of many bones” in the local language, is a semi-arid area bordering Embu East Sub-County in Embu County, and is inhabited by speakers of the Tharaka and Mbeere languages.
For many years, land adjudication has become nearly impossible in Kamaindi and Kamwimbi in Tharaka Nithi due to a prolonged dispute between the current occupants and a group of people from neighbouring Embu County who also claim ownership.
Adjudication is a government policy aimed at individualising land ownership to address violence associated with possession disagreements and to contribute to wealth creation in rural areas.
The controversial process, which started in 2013, has stalled, even after the Environment and Land Court in Chuka delivered a ruling in 2018 allowing the work to continue.
But on Thursday last week, the government gave the clearest indication that it is ready to tackle the situation head-on and deal decisively with the tussles.
Lands and Physical Planning Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Mburi Muiru and Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki launched land adjudication in seven sections in Tharaka and Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituencies, with the aim of issuing 24,000 title deeds.
Speaking during a meeting held at the Igambang’ombe chief’s camp, Mr Muiru said the exercise is expected to take only 60 days and urged residents to avoid disputes that could delay the work.
In Kamaindi and Kamwimbi, the government plans to issue 3,000 and 2,800 title deeds respectively in an exercise that will take only 20 days.
Mr Muiru also warned adjudication officers against corruption, noting that anyone found culpable will face the law.
“This land adjudication exercise is expected to take only 60 days because it is a rapid-result initiative that should run nonstop even during weekends and public holidays,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Lands is committed to delivering the promise that President Uhuru Kenyatta gave to Kenyans during the 2017 General Election campaigns of issuing them with title deeds before the end of his tenure in 2022.
Governor Njuki said land disputes had led to the murder of many people including the Kamaindi chief and the Chuka OCS in 2019.
He said land adjudication in Kamaindi and Kamwimbi started in 2013 during his tenure as the Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP but stalled due to court cases.
“My government will offer extra vehicles and other logistical requirements to facilitate the exercise in order to meet the target set by the Ministry of Lands,” he said.
Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Beverly Opwora assured security to adjudication officers and asked residents to maintain peace.
She said those with disputes should seek redress through the respective adjudication section committees instead of causing chaos.
*Courtesy* Daily Nation