Criminal gangs are taking over private and public property and subdividing it for sale, with the proceeds being used to perpetrate illegal activities, Parliament was told Thursday.
Administration and National Security Committee chairman Asman Kamama said invasion of land was rampant, especially in the Eastlands area of Njiru in Nairobi and in Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu.
“Several cases have been reported to police by owners of property. There are criminal gangs masquerading as squatters who have been illegally invading people’s land,” Mr Kamama said in response to a statement sought by Kasarani MP John Chege.
Mr Chege had asked the committee to probe the presence of illegal gangs that have been terrorising land owners in the constituency by taking over land and disposing it off.
Among the owners dispossessed by the gangs, he said, were Kasarani Land Buying Company, late Starehe MP Gerishon Kirima, Nyoro Construction Company, Kenya Builders, New Roysambu Land Buying Company, Eastern By-Pass and Kenyatta University Staff Union.
“The government has established that some invasion has been done by illegal groupings masquerading as squatters. Investigations are ongoing on a number of others (plots) with a view to returning them to the rightful owners,” the Tiaty MP told the House.
Among cases under investigations are Kenya Quarry Group Ltd, Muoroto Squatters Group Ltd and Njiru Housing Development Ltd.
Mr Kamama said the invaders targeted land that was not developed or fenced after subdivision.
He denied claims by Dagoreti North MP Simba Arati that senior public officers were linked to the illegal takeover. “Investigations have not linked any government officer,” he said.
Mr Kamama said the Nyoro Construction Company land would be returned while parcels belonging to Nyakio Group, Kenya Builders, Njiru Housing Development Company and Eastern Bypass were the subject of litigation.
He said the government has provided land surveyors to subdivide group-owned land and asked beneficiaries or owners to take possession and fence land off to discourage invaders. He said police had been instructed to help genuine land owners take back their property from the gangs.
“They come in groups of 50, invade land and blackmail owners into giving them money to move out,” he said. The revelation calls for thorough background checks by Kenyans wishing to buy property in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret.