Frequent demolitions point to a rotten land registration system
Members of the public watch as a bulldozer brings down a building in Langata, Nairobi on July 20, 2013. The chaotic scenes of demolition gripped the nation and its effect rattled all the way to Parliament, where MPs summoned the then Lands minister, James Orengo, and his Local Government counterpart, Musalia Mudavadi, to explain what was happening. As demand for land and housing cracks the ceiling, more and more people are falling into the traps of fraudsters who collude with officials at the Ministry of Lands to plant fake title deeds at government offices.
You notice movement: trucks offloading sand and cement, workers putting up a perimeter fence, women cooking githeri for workers around the site... We put these questions to land experts and the opinion is so divided on who is to blame that it is clear that Kenyans will keep being taken for a ride for the foreseeable future.
The people we talked to over the past week could not agree on whom to blame in the event one’s house is demolished despite possessing official documentation, including letters of allotment and title deeds, from the Ministry of Lands. The National Land Commission chairman, Mohammed Swazuri, is clear, though, that fraudsters are having a ball and that most of those who end up losing their money and property probably never did the right background checks.
“Any property that is acquired legally will have all the accompanying documents in order,” he says, “but many of those who eventually cry fould do not have such proof of ownership.”Swazuri outlines four basic procedures land buyers should follow before going ahead to sign on the dotted line and close any land deal. “There must be a Gazette notice indicating ownership of that piece of land, a planning notice, a request for surveyors and, finally, involvement of the Lands Registrar in the whole process.” Swazuri says properties acquired through this systematic procedure seldomly attract any controversy later on.
Swazuri’s guidelines are corroborated by the national coordinator of the Kenya Land Alliance, Odenda Lumumba, who says that, increasingly, a lot of people are bypassing the right property purchasing procedure either because they want to close the deal fast or are under pressure from the fraudsters selling the land. “Most people, especially those buying sub-divided plots, never ask for the root title deed,” says Lumumba.
Swazuri and Lumumba’s advice comes at a time when the country is witnessing yet another round of demolitions to pave the way for the construction of a road.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The Daily Nation