Editorials

Give State agencies title deeds to avert land grab

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Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • No public institution appears to have been spared the land grab threat — from schools to State corporations.
  • A new report by the Auditor-General shows the ownership of Parliament Buildings remains uncertain after the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) failed to produce documentation to prove occupancy of five crucial assets.
  • A recent survey shows that only a paltry 37 percent of public schools have title deeds.

For a long time now, parcels of land belonging to government institutions have been the target of grabbers, partly because they don’t have the documents to prove ownership.

No public institution appears to have been spared the land grab threat — from schools to State corporations.

A new report by the Auditor-General shows the ownership of Parliament Buildings remains uncertain after the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) failed to produce documentation to prove occupancy of five crucial assets within the multi-billion shilling complex.

Parliament joins a long list of State agencies that lack title deeds for their property. And this despite the fact that the PSC is spending Sh5.58 billion of taxpayers' money to expand the offices, in addition to building a drive-and-walk-through underground road.

A recent survey shows that only a paltry 37 percent of public schools have title deeds. Another survey by the Land Development and Governance Institute showed that about 77 percent of public institutions lack crucial ownership documents.

The National Housing Corporation has also been accused of constructing homes for sale on land with no title deeds, leaving buyers exposed to fraud. Last year, the corporation built houses on 48 plots whose ownership was unclear.

The Kenya Airports Authority also failed to produce title deeds for five airports. The Kenya Wildlife Service, which has 222 pieces of land spread across the country, holds title documents for only 45 parcels of land.

Properties belonging to the Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Pipeline Company, government forests, game reserves and national parks are just as exposed.

Some of the plots have already been encroached by squatters who have put permanent structures. The lack of deeds has also become worrisome because it has opened a window for politicians and unscrupulous business persons to be allocated public land irregularly.

There is no reason whatsoever why the State, which is the custodian of land in Kenya, cannot audit all its properties and put its paperwork in order.