Inside Politics

Land still costly, say Kenyans

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 00:00 |
Ardhi House, Nairobi.

Steve Umidha @UmidhaSteve

Most Kenyans are still facing substantial hurdles in their quest for land information, a new survey shows.

The access-to-land information report for the public across 34 counties identifies delays, high costs, corruption, complex legal processes and scarcity of affordable lawyers as major obstacles for citizens seeking legal remedies.

“It is a worrying trend which continues to threaten gains made by the government in its quest to digitise land registry.

A lot needs to be done,” said Mwenda Makathimo, director at Land Development and Governance Institute.

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Speaking during the launch of the Status of Land Governance in Kenya report, he said 51 per cent of respondents still consider corruption a major hinderance in land transactions, rating it as “high”.

More than half of the respondents cited nepotism and favoritism, unmotivated members, and gender imbalance as being rife at the Lands Control Board (LCB). 

The survey says 61 per cent of the polled felt that cost of services at public land offices were above their means.

Most respondents admitted they were not aware of the existence of online land search systems, further alluding to the fact that little has been achieved since the launch of the National Land Information Management System.

Known as ArdhiSasa, the system was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April 2021.

The survey had a sample size of 1.036 respondents and took place in March this year– a month before ArdhiSasa launch – a new system that seeks to digitise land records, streamline land transactions and ownership.

Under the new system, a Kenyan can search for land transactions, transfers and registrations in the comfort of her or his home.

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At the click of a button, citizens will carry out online transactions, drastically reducing human interactions—a frequent source of fraud and a definite cause of delays and inconveniences.

The system is also expected to eliminate fraud, corruption and manipulation of critical land records as well as long queues at the registries.

Further the system is hoped will resolve land problems as it will provide an updated, verified database of land records that are easily and readily available.

Since Independence, land has been an emotive fight for the majority of Kenyans, owing to historical injustices, fraud and the manipulation of land documents at Ardhi House.

The new system is part of the reforms in the lands sector that is hoped will solve such matters.

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