Everyone is scrambling for a piece of land in Embakasi,” said Njiru Location chief Josephat Githenji, sitting amid a pile of paperwork.
For the last few months, Mr Githenji’s office in the Embakasi area on the outskirts of Nairobi has been awash with paperwork.
Unfortunately, most of it is fake; everything from fake titles to building permits. Property investors in Embakasi are losing out to well-organised cartels who resell land to unsuspecting investors, create fake property documents, and sell poorly constructed buildings.
Mr Githenji encounters many complaints of double allocation of land. When he pushes the parties to furnish him with ownership proof, he often gets forged papers.
Kenyans’ hunt for a plot has led to land in the area being sub-divided into minute plots which unscrupulous agents sell to as many as five people at a time. Most buyers are unaware that they are not the true owners of the land, until they attempt to develop it or take a loan on it.
For those who manage to secure a plot, shifty contractors are the order of the day. Mr Githenji said that not a single house in the entire Njiru in Embakasi area is built to legal specifications. Most of the victims are civil servants who were retrenched in the 1990s and invested their golden handshake money in the area. Other victims are shareholders who invested through ranching companies. Area MP Ferdinand Waititu said sprouting estates gave a false impression of an area that is the panacea to Nairobi’s middle class housing shortage problem.
“You see a lot of what I would call ‘chaotic ownership’ . In some instances, you can find up to 10 claims to one parcel of land,” said the MP.