Governor Waititu lock horns with landowners over rates

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu
Landowners in Kiambu are protesting the county government's decision to drastically raise land rates.

After unsuccessfully pleading with Governor Ferdinand Waititu's administration to lower the fees, the residents on Wednesday said they had formed a lobby group to push for the scrapping of the new rates.

The co-ordinator of the lobby group Zayuni Mbugua said they wanted the fees suspended until "proper public participation" was done.

“We were never involved when the county came up with the new land rates. They are very high and a majority of the residents cannot afford to pay,” said Mr Mbugua.

Mr Mbugua said at Thindigua estate along Kiambu Road, for example, plot owners who have been paying Sh350 per year were now  required to pay Sh38,000 per plot.

He also questioned the rationale behind charging different property owners different rates for the same plot sizes.

He claimed some land owners in Githurai and Kahawa Sukari were being charged Sh17,500 and others Sh6,400 for plots of the same size.

“Until 2018 I have been paying Sh2,000 for my 40-by-60 plot in Githurai. I am now required to pay Sh6,000 which I cannot afford. We have to sit down with the county and agree on new charges that will be affordable to all people,” he said.

Consensus

Yesterday, Mr Waititu, said the new rates have been suspended to pave way for negotiations. He, however, defended the rates, saying his government only implemented what had already been planned by the previous regime.

“The increment of new rates started in 2015 and public participation was done then but we have suspended them so that we have a consensus on the new rates,” said Waititu.

Rose Wachira, also member of the lobby, said they would go round the 12 Kiambu sub-counties asking residents not to pay the new rates until a public participation forum is organised.

“Our efforts to have the county lower the new rates have fallen on deaf ears. The governor during the campaigns said he would reduce levies that were being charged by the county. We wonder why he has gone against his word,” she said.

Peter Mwaura said they were contemplating going to court in a bid to stop the implementation of the new rates.

Manufacturers also protested over the new rates, which they termed exorbitant and unsustainable.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chief Executive officer Phyllis Wakiaga said the rates are exaggerated, unrealistic and unlawful.

The CEO, in a letter dated January 18 to the county executive for Land James Maina, expressed KAM’s dissatisfaction with the new rates and requested that their implementation be suspended pending further consultations with stakeholders.

“Property owners were never involved and information on the new rates was kept secret until they were gazetted,” she said.

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Governor WaitituKiambu CountyKenya Association of Manufacturers