Land reforms crucial for urban planning and development, state told

Ardhi House that houses the National Lands Commission which is mandated to implement land reforms. [File, Standard]

Businessman Nazir Jinnah has called for drastic land reforms across the country to ensure accessibility to all.

Jinnah said while land issues in the country remain highly emotive and has previously been a source of trouble, reforms remain a critical means of production.

He said lack of reforms has had far-reaching consequences of vacant or undeveloped land ownership held for speculative gains.

In an interview on Wednesday, the hospitality industry investor said this practice not only results in significant losses for the government in terms of tax collections but also hampers the local economy while disrupting techno-vocational employment, and preventing the prosperity of the community.

"I suggest issuing vacant land owners a targeted timeframe to develop their properties. If the land remains undeveloped beyond this limit, the government should come up with a way to reclaim the land for redistribution to individuals or entities capable of fostering local community development," said Jinnah.

According to him, such a move will ensure that land is utilised efficiently for the collective benefit of the community.

His proposal is likely to trigger a myriad of reactions and more so opposition from the country's biggest land owners, who are mostly politicians and highly connected individuals.

The political class has always been blamed for meddling and politicizing land reform policies. Jinnah’s proposal would need drastic amendments to the current laws governing land ownership in the country.

In another facet of his proposal, Jinnah turns his attention to aging buildings in central business districts within Kenya.

He said structures reaching 25 years of age should be considered for redesign or demolition under a government-backed financial model.

This, he said, aims to facilitate the evolution of urban landscapes, making way for modern structures that align with contemporary needs and standards.

 He said his comprehensive perspective emphasises the importance of strategic land use and urban planning to promote economic growth, community prosperity, and the efficient utilization of resources.

He said that his proposals advocate for a balance between private property rights and the collective interest in fostering vibrant, sustainable communities.

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