Land boards dissolution freezes property transfers since April


Land Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

Land transactions have stalled for the last two months following the disbandment of land control boards that approve leasing and sale of agricultural property.

The Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) Tuesday said the freeze in agricultural land transactions is also hurting other critical sectors like banking and real estate on reduced lending and property development respectively.

Land Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof Jacob Kaimenyi disbanded the boards in late April to curb widespread corruption in the sector promising they would be reconstituted in two weeks.

The boards, with a membership of between seven and 12 people and  traditionally chaired by district commissioners (DC) or district officers (DO), approve buying, selling or sub-division of agricultural land in areas under their jurisdiction.

“Deserving Kenyans and institutions are not able to invest or transact in agricultural land. The banks and other financial lending institutions are affected,” Stephen Ambani, the ISK chairman said.

“In addition land professionals are unable to facilitate land transactions. The longer the vacuum exists, the more the economy will hurt and in addition give room for further illegal land dealings.”

An official from the Land ministry said that some land boards in several counties had already been constituted while others are being vetted without giving numbers.

“This is the final week. The new boards will start working immediately (after vetting),” said the official.

Explosive population growth and expansion of most towns has seen real estate grow into agricultural land, especially in Kiambu where coffee estates are now blanketed with properties.

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Much of the demand is also riding on Kenyans’ love affair with investment in plots of land, which has seen the increased sub-division of agricultural property.

The sub-division must be approved by the boards meaning that the disbandment has stalled the plans of thousands looking to buy land and build thier houses. Sale deals have also been put on ice.

At the time of disbandment, Prof Kaimenyi said those fired will not be eligible for reappointment.

He added that the new board members will need to reflect the two-thirds gender rule and will be vetted with members of the public allowed to contribute to the process.

Besides the DC or DO, other members of the board include one or two other public officers, two persons nominated by the local county council and between three and seven persons residing within the area.

The ISK said there needs to be a fair mix of land professionals like surveyors and valuers co-opted to the boards to inject technical experience.

“This will ensure that the decisions arrived at by these boards are objective and reflect the spirit of land reform within the sector,” Mr Ambani said.