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Economy

Land transaction crisis fears as NLC chiefs’ term expires

Mohamad Swazuri
NLC chairman Mohamad Swazuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Land transactions could grind to a halt next month with the expiry of the six-year non-renewable term of commissioners at the National Land Commission (NLC), experts have warned.

With the expiry of the term of NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri and his team, it will take at least three months to recruit and swear in a new team.

Key transactions like land compensation, property allotments and lease renewals will be frozen during the period.

Land experts warn that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s manufacturing and housing projects under the Big Four Agenda will stall without a functional NLC.

The projects require compensation for land as well as renewal of leases.

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“With the exit of the commission and if the replacement process takes long, the Big Four, land compensation, critical national development infrastructure projects, land allotments and lease renewals will be dead,” Mwenda Makathimo, the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) executive director said. “There is also danger of fraud as critical documents and files risk disappearing.”

Land dealers say failure by Ministry of Land to start the process of picking a selection panel ahead of expiry of the tenure of the first commissioners to NLC poses a serious threat to national development.

“The recruitment therefore needs to be kick-started urgently to avoid a prolonged period between the lapse of term of office of the current members and the assumption of office of the new team."

“Any extension of the recruitment period will occasion gaps in delivery of critical services to the public and adversely affect implementation of development projects,” Ibrahim Mwathane, the LDGI chairman said in a land watch note released yesterday.

The LDGI said the recruitment of a new commission will take a minimum of 70 days or nearly three months based on timeliness set under the first schedule of the National Land Commission Act.

“A prolonged lull will mean that land transaction by both the government and the private sector cannot be approved without the commission. This will create a risk of a court challenge like was the case with the thousands of title deeds issued by the ministry without the approval of the NLC,” Mr Makathimo said.

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