Total Kenya voices unease over change in land holdings law

NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri
NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Oil multinational Total Kenya has voiced fears over the impact that revised land laws will have on its books as it awaits direction from the National Land Commission on leases held by foreigners.

The 2010 Constitution outlawed owning of freehold land and leasehold land in excess of 99 years by foreigners and foreign bodies.

The Constitutional change saw Total convert all its lands into finance leases.

“The company is waiting for the National Land Commission to issue guidelines that will operationalise the provisions of the constitution and the revised land laws,” says Total Kenya in its latest financial report.

“The company will continue to reassess the impact of the revised land laws on the financial statements as the guidelines are issued.”

Total Kenya is 92.2 per cent owned by French oil major Total Outre Mer and this makes it a non-Kenyan citizen company. The status of its freehold land changed to 99 years lease.

As at end of December 2017, its land and buildings had a net carrying amount of Sh2.35 billion. Of this, it has prepaid operating leases of Sh886.9 million which relate to amounts that the company has paid for the leased land on which most of its stations and depots stand.

The process of operationalising the land provisions has dragged on since 2012.

In January last year, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning launched a taskforce on formulation of regulations to operationalise the Land Act of 2012, Land Registration Act of 2012 and Community Land Act, 2016.

But when the taskforce’s blueprint was presented before the National Assembly in mid-February this year, the Ministry was accused of not having taken the proposals through public participation and consultation before seeking approval from Parliament.