By Alex Ndegwa
Majority of Kenyans are confident devolving of land services like registry and survey to counties will ease service delivery, although a significant number is yet to comprehend the roles of the new institutions.
These were the findings of a new survey, which suggested Kenyans were eager about implementation of land reforms because they do not have faith in the Ministry of Lands.
The report warns the delay to make operational the National Land Commission (NLC) could be exploited by unscrupulous officials at the Lands ministry to irregularly allocate public land or renew expired land leases during the transition.
NLC and County Land Management Boards (CLMB) are the commission’s organs at the county level while the Environment and Land courts are new institutions to drive land reforms. Those polled in the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) survey reported they did not have faith in the Lands ministry compared to the CLMB in the county offices. Nearly half of the respondents (48 per cent) suggested the CLMB provide land registry services compared to 28 per cent who rooted for the Ministry of Land.
Similarly, slightly more than a third of those polled (38 per cent) preferred the survey services to be offered at the county offices as opposed to the Ministry of Land (29 per cent). Some 49 per cent of respondents favoured county offices with only 15.5 per cent having confidence in the Lands office. LDGI released the findings in Nairobi this week after interviewing 863 service seekers spread over 27 counties. The dissatisfaction with the Lands ministry stemmed from perception of corruption and inefficiencies.
Majority of first time visitors to the Lands offices reported experiencing problems because the service counters are not clearly labelled, and others have no customer service desks or, if present, most are unmanned.
“Most respondents feel that for better service delivery, the attitude of the Lands offices staff needs to change positively so as to curb vices such as corruption, inefficiencies and discrimination in service provision,” the report says.
However, the scorecard on awareness of land administration and management institutions was not impressive due to poor civic education. A massive 74.8 per cent of the respondents were not aware of the process of forming the institutions with only a quarter (25 per cent) knowledgeable. The NLC was popular among those polled while they knew little about the CLMB and Ministry of Lands.
He added that gauging citizen awareness on the new land institutions is important to implementation. Asked about their awareness of the separation of functions between the new institutions and the Lands ministry, only a paltry four per cent replied in the affirmative.
The report recommends the Government and other stakeholders to embark on an intensive civic education campaign.