The caveat on parcels of land excised from the Mau Forest Complex in 2015 is hurting peasants in the South Rift region. According to a section of leaders from the region, lifting the caveat on land in the fringes of the expansive forest will spur development and growth.
On Sunday, during a church service at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Molo, attended by President William Ruto, the leaders renewed their bid to push for lifting the ban.
Members of Parliament told the president that the moratorium had affected the issuance of titles in four sub-counties in Nakuru and neighbouring counties.
They argued that the caveat has impoverished residents and reduced land owners to abject poverty though they have title deeds for their parcels of land. The caveat was imposed on various parts of the South Rift due to protracted land disputes and what the government thought was a way to stop illegal land transactions on the fringes of the forest.
Due to the caveat, residents of Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Molo and Njoro sub-counties have not been issued with title deeds under the national titling programme due to the caveat imposed by the State.
Kuresoi South MP Joseph Tonui said people who own land in the affected schemes have found it difficult to develop it or obtain loans from most financial institutions as banks reject deeds on land still under a caveat.
“We welcome the president’s directive to the lands Cabinet Secretary (CS). The lifting of the caveat is long overdue. Residents of the affected schemes have suffered for a long time," he said.
He said the affected areas include the Kiptagich extension, Ndoinet, Saino, Pararget, Marishoni and Naswet, among other settlement schemes in Nakuru County.
His Molo counterpart Kimani Kuria said the caveat had created uncertainty over ownership of land and is responsible for hostility among communities in the areas.
“The lifting of the caveat will spur growth and development in those areas. It is important for the government to lift the ban,” he said.
Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika said the caveat hurts the people, and the areas affected were lagging behind in development.
“Residents in the affected areas can’t develop the land, they are lagging behind economically. We appreciate the president’s directive to the Land CS to intervene and lift the ban,” she said.
Njoro MP Charity Kathambi had tabled a motion in the National Assembly, seeking an explanation from the Lands CS on what measures were being taken by the State to lift the caveat.
The affected areas in her constituency are Mau Narok, Mauche, Nesuit, Njoro, Lare and Kihingo. “By lifting the caveat, the land owners would be able to access loans, and public schools will be able to process deeds for the land on which they are built,” she said.
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Kuresoi North MP Alfred Mutai said the ban had disfranchised her constituents and was responsible for hostilities among communities.
National Land Commission representative in Nakuru County Frank Kimbelekenya said he supports the president’s directive.
But land rights activists are sceptical about lifting the ban, saying the famous Ndung’u report listed these land allocations as illegal and recommended the revocation of their title deeds.