The Ruiru lands registry works with clock-like precision when gangs of brokers scatter

My next foray in my “State of the Nation” tour took me to my home county of Kiambu, regarded as one of the richest counties in the nation, at least going by the high land prices that, unfortunately, have turned previously productive lands into towers of concrete jungle.

I did not venture into the farmlands; the village idyll was long lost. I went to the Ruiru offices of the Ministry of Lands. Yes, now that I’m of a certain age and dispensation, it appears my life oscillates around the issue of kamugunda (farmland).

The matter at hand was to seek audience with the Ruiru Lands Registrar, a genial, generous man who opted to consult with us instead of going for lunch, and who rebuffed our overture when made the offer of sharing a meal.

Having staked out for a few hours, waiting in queues that did not move, I watched the registrar attend to a dozen or two of wananchi shielding under a shed, appending signatures, and dispensing advice, as he did to us.

“I listened to the registrar comments on your matter,” a stranger leaned in the car window, startling us. “Do you have a lawyer? I can recommend one…” Even though I know things are tough, I didn’t know legal services are now hawked like njugu karanga.

We stepped out of the car. Suddenly, a marauding gang of brokers descended on us, each offering all manner of assistance, for a fee.

A particular document we needed required an official fee of Sh500, but the brokers asked for Sh2,500 to process it. We flatly rejected the offer; why would a broker be earning more than the government, and why would a taxpayer be bribing to receive service?

The answers came soon. Extra documents, unrequired in the transaction were invoked. And we needed a fresh “valuation” before the official fee could be paid. That’s when I lost my patience and flashed my Press card. The walls of bureaucratic subterfuge dissolved magically to instantly have my papers “assessed” on the spot and requisite document produced in record time.

Even the registrar was availed immediately. Yes, the system works with clock-like precision; it’s designed to slow down or expedite at will, especially when the brokers scatter.