Take stern action to destroy land cartels

At the weekend, a house belonging to Nazmudin Kurji was brought down in Westlands, Nairobi over an alleged land dispute. Francis Nyaga Njeru appeared in court on Wednesday, but faced no charges.Early this week, reports that there was a plot to grab an estimated 20-acre cemetery land along Mbagathi Road got the City County government swinging into action to fight off what would have been a land grab of monumental proportions.

Last year, a plot to grab Lang’ata Road Primary School playground was thwarted. Everywhere, there is one plot or another to grab land. And it doesn’t matter anymore whether it is private or public land. Land as a factor of production is becoming increasingly scarce.

This scarcity has meant it is priced exorbitantly, especially in the city.Since the National Land Commission (NLC) came into existence nearly six years ago, it is increasingly hard to a lay a finger on any concrete achievement to its name in the explosive land sector. Often, on many occasions, their modus operandi has been reactive rather than pre-emptive. Age-old issues about land still stick out, with little or no attempt to resolve them.

Initially, the inertia by the NLC was blamed on the constant turf wars with former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu. In fact, in January last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta threatened action on the two bodies for their apparent inaction.

Nothing was done. The cartels at Ardhi House have sprung back to life, or so it seems. They need to be stopped. The case of the Kurji family should stir us into action. What is apparent is that those involved in land grabbing, to a large extent, are influential people.

Under Ms Ngilu, the registry of the much-maligned Lands ministry was revamped to make it more sensitive in dealing with those seeking its services. Files that had hitherto disappeared due to corrupt dealings were recovered. One way of restoring public confidence is to recover stolen land and those found culpable punished in accordance with the law. It is equally important that the Community Land Bill 2015, the Physical and Spatial Planning Bill 2015, and the Land Laws (amendment) Bill 2015 are operationalised.