Nairobi News


Ngilu must go slow on Kibera land drive

State House on Sunday cancelled a function in Kibera where President Uhuru Kenyatta was to issue title deeds to Nubians.

Security concerns were cited, as a group of non-Nubians in the area had threatened to disrupt it.

This is the second time the event has been cancelled for security reasons.

From the start, the plan to allocate close to 300 acres — almost half the area of Kibera — to the Nubians by Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu has been resisted by other communities, the National Lands Commission, Nairobi County, and local leaders.

The commission maintains it was never involved in the plan and does not therefore approve it.

The law states it is the National Lands Commission that issues allotment letters and not the ministry, raising questions about the interest of Mrs Ngilu and by extension the Executive, in the matter.

The Governor has opposed the plan, saying it breaks the law.

And local leaders, including Kibra MP Kenneth Okoth, maintain not enough consultations have been held.

Mrs Ngilu’s visit to the area last Tuesday to assess the situation and triggered violent demonstrations by residents.

A lot of questions remain unanswered.

One: The government is not saying whether or not it will resettle or compensate those moved from the land allocated to Nubians.

Two: We do not know what criteria was used to identify the beneficiaries.

Three: Why would the government not want to involve the Land Commission, which is mandated to handle such matters?

Four: Why is the matter being handled by the Executive with such secrecy?

One might easily want to read politics in the whole issue.

Knowing the history of ethnic tensions in Kibera over the years, the Government must tread carefully and conduct further consultations before making any decision.

It is paramount to involve everyone in the process so that decisions are all-inclusive to avert any possible violence.

Against the backdrop of the 2008 post-election violence — where land was cited as a trigger — it would be wise for the government to rethink its strategy in Kibera. It will not profit anyone to issue titles that will lead to violence.