Lawyers protest over delays at Lands ministry

President Uhuru Kenyatta when he toured the National Geospatial Data Centre in Nairobi County during the launch of the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) on April 27, 2021.[PSCU, Standard]

Lawyers have protested over the continued delay in verification of land documents and closure of some land registries despite a court order that they be opened.

In a letter to Lands CS Farida Karoney, the Law Society of Kenya Nairobi Branch expressed their frustrations at being unable to transact through the digital platform introduced by the Land’s ministry in April and wants operations reverted to manual services.

Branch chairman Eric Theuri said they cannot verify land titles for clients who need to secure loans and security for court bonds while some documents have mysteriously vanished from the lands records during the upgrade from manual to digital.

“Access to the lands registry has now become impossible not only for lawyers but also for the public while operations at the central registry have stalled. The continued usage of digital system without a manual option is causing massive inconveniences and loss of business,” said Theuri.

Further, he said that they will be forced to move to court to compel the CS to open the registries within the next seven days.

On June 3, Justice James Makau issued another order compelling the Land CS to reopen the Nairobi Central land registries and offer services to the public in a prompt and efficient manner.

Justice Makau also prohibited the CS from closing any lands registry or the headquarters at Ardhi House following a petition by lawyer Patrick Ngunjiri.

He ruled that the Lands CS violated the constitutional rights to access public documents when she unilaterally closed the registry for audit and system upgrade from manual to digital.

“The CS did not act in accordance with the constitution nor were her actions reasonable, lawful, justified or procedurally fair to close all service at the Nairobi Central Lands registry for an indeterminate period,” ruled Makau.