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Shame more public land grabbers

By | Oct 21st 2010 | 2 min read
By | October 21st 2010

By Harold Ayodo

Three weeks ago, this column dared the Government to make good threats of revoking illegally acquired title deeds.

We submitted that prospective investors in real estate are shying away from the lucrative sub-sector over uncertainties of fraudulently acquired property. The facts of our case were that an investor would erect a dream home the Government would raise a red flag that it stood on fraudulent land.

However, Lands Minister James Orengo has cracked a series of whips over the past two weeks repossessing illegally acquired property from influential personalities.

For instance, he recently released a Gazette Notice that revoked 58 title deeds issued to powerful individuals — including former ministers — by the former regime. According to Orengo, the lucrative plots were allocated to private developers illegally and unconstitutionally.

It was even laughable that an individual had a title deed of the landmark Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).

The cancelled title deeds include 30 in Mombasa, 16 in Nairobi and eight in Eldoret among other prime property in major towns countrywide.

Same script

Eleven of the titles in Mombasa were in areas that were initially reserved for housing senior council officers but instead were sublet to a tycoons. Other titles at the Coast were issued for road reserves on Tudor Road (Tom Mboya Avenue).

The script was similar in Nairobi where the 16 titles cancelled were on property constructed on land set aside for the Northern by-pass.

Orengo also repossessed titles for over 5,000 acres in Ruai meant for the expansion of a sewerage plant.

walk the talk

To show dedication, the minister vowed not to be intimidated by people linked to grabbing of public property and would continue with the repossession.

Orengo deserves a pat on the back for walking the talk but one good turn deserves another — press for the release and action on the Ndung’u Land Report.

Legally speaking, the new Constitution guarantees protection over private property apart from that which was acquired illegally, according to Article 40 (6). The new supreme law could be the surest way of containing would-be land grabbers, according to Article 67.

To refresh memories, the Article provides for the establishment of the National Land Commission (NLC). Among the functions of the Commission are to manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments. Others are to recommend a national land policy to the national Government and advise on a comprehensive programme for registration of title deeds countrywide.

It is my humble submission that the Minister for Lands digs deeper the cabinets at Ardhi House to shame more grabbers.

— The writer is a lawyer and journalist.

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