Youth leaders and civil society groups in Mombasa have condemned the continued forceful occupation of public and private land by ‘professional and perennial squatters’ in the region.
They said large number of people occupying private land has become a serious concern in Coastal County and asked the government to address the matter that threatens to cripple economic activities.
Speaking at Jomvu in Mombasa on Wednesday, they condemned the emerging trend of private land invasions by people who have tuned the issue of landlessness into a ‘commercial venture’.
They said in past few years hundreds of people branded themselves squatters have invaded several pieces of private land under the guise of expiry of leases and ancestral lands rights.
Led by Emmanuel Chengo, a human rights activist, they said the trend threatens the peace and violating the rights of others to own property.
“The move is now driving away investors who are usually mired in land controversies,” said Chengo.
He said several industries that have set base in Mombasa are in court trying to remove squatters who have occupied their parcels of land.
He noted in some incidences there were no squatters but people being used to grab public and private land by selfish politicians.
He pointed out a case where ‘Shreeji Chemicals Ltd’ in Jomvu constituency which employs about 1,200 people is in the process of relocating its glass manufacturing factory out of Mombasa after it was entangled in land dispute with squatters.
Chengo said part of this particular company’s land has been taken over by Jomvu Constituency Development Fund and being turned into a road.
“We wonder why the area MP Badi Twalib is spending public resources in a road which has been hived from a private land and can be challenged in a court of law,” he wondered.
Mombasa Youth President Alfred Otieno condemned the continued forceful occupation of private land by professional squatters in the region noting that many private companies were now seeking land outside Mombasa.
“When these companies relocate from Mombasa it is the youth who feel the pinch more because unemployment will become rampant’ said Otieno.
Otieno also questioned why Jomvu MP would go ahead to spend tax payers money on a disputed piece of land.
Evans Momanyi a civil society activist said invasion of private land and misuse of public resources by elected leaders is the highest form of impunity that the national government should stop.