NLC moves to clean land lease registry

The National Lands Commission (NLC) has embarked on an exercise to clean up land records in major towns as cases of fraudulent deals rise.

According to the commission, previous wrangles with the Ministry of Lands enabled cartels and rogue officials to profiteer from falsified land deals.

The issue took centre stage towards the end of 2016, with cases of rogue dealers forcefully ceasing and at times destroying property on account of expired land leases.

Speaking to Citizen Digital, NLC Chairman Prof. Muhammad Swazuri admitted the commission has limited to no information on the status of land leases in the country. .

“It’s a bit difficult to know because there were cartels which were holding that information. Secondly the owners are now scared of even disclosing that there is a lease that expired, because some are even being threatened with death,” Prof. Swazuri said.

The mess with the land registry saw the government freeze renewal of land leases as it sought to seal loopholes.

The exercise will start in Nairobi County, with a proper, updated record of lease statuses ready by the end of February.

Areas being targeted in the clean up exercise include Mombasa, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kitale, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kericho and will be complete by April.

“Our interest is the leases that were given in the colonial times. These are the ones that are in prime areas where there’s a lot of infighting to get them,” he said.

The Ministry of Lands has at the same time begun digitizing land records with the exercise involving the correspondence records registry and the Nairobi central registry.

The program is set to cause disruptions to provision of services at Ardhi House until February 14.

“The affected services will include issuance of land rent clearance certificates, consent to transfer and charge and other related land administration processes,” the ministry said in a notice in the dailies.

Land experts have lauded the decision, but warn that government must hasten any measures being implemented.

“There are properties that are waiting to be charged and there are deals for development that are waiting to be done that will be delayed or affected negatively by stoppage of the transactions,” Land Development and Governance Institute Director Dr Mwenda Makathimo said.