EACC report paints grim picture of Ardhi House

A view of Ardhi House along Ngong Road in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
Ardhi House along Ngong Road in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The anti-corruption watchdog has unearthed damning irregularities in land management that are exposing the Ministry of Lands to cartels and fraudsters.

A report released Wednesday by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) identified several irregularities ranging from improper issuance of new parcels and deed plan numbers to inaccurate surveys, irregular map amendments, double registrations of parcels and forgeries in land transactions.

The report, whose launch was presided over by Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney and her Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, revealed that land records at various registries in the country are handled by interns, casual labourers and persons termed as volunteers and without supervision.

Such unauthorised persons undertake duties such as retrieval of files, filing of land records and conducting land searches, hence opening a window for fraudulent activities.

Other loopholes highlighted in the 171-page report include inefficiency in bulk title processing at the National Titling Centre, lack of record management policy, unauthorised access to land records, absence of a system of tracking records, existence of parallel and duplicate records and also those that are missing.

Qualification of surveyors

The EACC has also questioned the qualification of land surveyors as most work submitted at the Survey of Kenya Deed Plan Office have glaring errors.

“Correspondences from Regional surveyor in Kakamega, for example, cited 96 mutations with errors that included duplication of parcel numbers, encroachment to other parcels, roads of access to other parcels not provided, shapes and measurements differing from the maps among other discrepancies,” says the report.

“The Surveyor Board of Kenya is mandated to grant licenses and take disciplinary proceedings against licensed surveyors. But at the time of the assessment, the board had not undertaken compliance audits of survey work citing limited resource. This has resulted in some inaccurate survey jobs taken being submitted to the ministry without action being taken against errant surveyors,” it adds.

According to the study that was prepared between September 2016 and February 2017, some unscrupulous ministry officials have been taking advantage of frequent lack of crucial materials for printing maps in Lands Ministry to swindle money from Kenyans.

“At the time of the assessment, linen materials used in production of deed plans and ammonia papers used in production of Registry Index Maps that show the location and shapes of parcels of land had been out of stock for three months. This had led to backlog of deeds plans to be processed.”

“The team noted that when clients requested for maps they were advised to buy from specific vendors despite having paid for the services that included paper and printing,” says the report.