Man sues Kisumu over 7,000 percent land levy increase


Part of Kisumu City skyline as seen from the Kisumu Port in Lake Victoria. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

A Kisumu resident has gone to court seeking to suspend the recently gazetted Draft Valuation Roll 2017 by governor Anyang Nyong'o's government, which he argues imposes exorbitant property rates.

Mr John Michael Obure, a tenant of a rented property in Manyatta Kisumu wants the Kenya Gazette notice that has bumped up rates by up to over 7,000 per cent suspended. Additionally, all proceedings and processes arising from it, he pleads, should be stopped pending hearing and determination of an application he has filed before the Environment and Lands Court in Kisumu.

The roll is a legal document that consists of property information of all ratable properties within the boundaries of a municipality.

In the suit, Mr Obure has laid out six grounds arguing that should the Roll go unchallenged, property owners will be subjected to increased rates up to 7, 275 percent on free hold land and 5,343 percent on leasehold land.

He is represented in the suit by former President of the Law Society of Kenya, Isaac Okero.

Mr Obure says unless his application is heard as a matter of urgency and allowed to challenge the propriety, legality and validity of the Roll, the public will not only be subjected to exorbitant rates, but also have to deal with consequences which include rising cost of living and reduction in residents’ business competitiveness.

He argues that the county government requires objections to its Draft Valuation Roll 2017 to be lodged within 28 days which is before January 21, yet already the public is being compelled to incur costs to object.

According to the Gazette Notice dated December 24, 2020 and published in the local dailies, the Draft Valuation Roll 2017 was presented before the Kisumu County Assembly meeting on December 23, 2020 and has been made available for public inspection at the Town Hall and the respective sub-county offices.

In the Gazette notice signed by County Secretary Godfrey Kigochi, any aggrieved person can lodge objections upon payment of the requisite non-refundable Sh500 fee.

“The process is incurably tainted with illegality by the failure of the respondents to adhere to mandatory provisions of the law requiring that public participation be an integral part of the process,” says Mr Obure in his petition.

Governor Nyong’o’s administration gazetted the draft Valuation roll to streamline property ownership and boost revenue collection.

Despite having a high potential in raising billions of shillings in revenue, Kisumu is still struggling to collect Sh12 billion debt owed to it in land rates that have accumulated over time.