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'Frustration' as government extends closure of land offices

By Kevine Omollo | Apr 16th 2020 | 3 min read
By Kevine Omollo | April 16th 2020
Land CS Farida Karoney (PHOTO: FILE)

Frustration met decision by the government to extend the closure of land registries across the country.

The ministry of lands published in local dailies the extension of land registries closure by two weeks following advice from the National Emergency Response Committee on the management of Covid-19.

Homa Bay residents said the move is blocking the delivery of essential services at the county lands registry.

The lands registry has now been closed for one month, causing a lack of search services for land title deeds. It is through the search that the valuation of a land parcel can be done.

Lawyers in the county perceive the registry closure as what can cause congestion in remand cells especially now when the country is fighting covid-19 infection.

Several residents reportedly have been unsuccessfully visiting the registry to seek services.

“I have an emergency which can only be done through the sale of my land. I have always been visiting the registry office since Monday last week but it is locked,” Peter Otieno, a resident of Rusinga Island in Mbita Sub- County told The Standard.

According to a High Court advocate, Humphrey Obach, some Homa Bay residents who are charged and released on bond always produce land title deeds as their sureties due to lack of funds.

However, their title deeds cannot be valued because the land registry is closed. This will cause congestion in remand cells because many suspects released on the bond can only afford to produce their land title deeds.

“I have a client who was released on a bond of Sh400,000 last week. He produced a land title deed but he is still remanded because the value of his title deed cannot be determined,” said Obach.

Obach said the situation has made him turn down many people who wanted his office to oversee the purchase of their parcels of land.

In a letter to Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) have in the past argued that the continued closure of lands registries was affecting several land transactions with set timelines.

As a result, those involved in the transactions are being forced to part with huge penalties.

LSK is also accusing the ministry of reneging on an agreement they reached to suspend all timelines for registration of land.

“It is possible to achieve the government purpose of scaling down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic by allowing limited services at the lands registries like enforcing court orders, valuations, stamp duty, transfers, and discharges,” said LSK said in the letter signed by its president Nelson Havi.

Ms. Karoney had on March 17 issued a notice for closure of all land registries for 28 days as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However, on Tuesday, after the expiry of the 28 days, the CS extended the closure for a further 14 days.
This was on the advice of the National Emergency Response Committee on Management of Covid-19 to allow the government monitor the pandemic.

LSK claims that the backlog of transactions is affecting several people and wants the Ministry of Lands to immediately issue guidelines for online transactions to speed up the process.

Covid 19 Time Series


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