Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: MPs Urged to Prioritise National Land Commission

Nairobi — Experts in the land sector are now calling on Parliament to speedily approve members of the National Land Commission (NLC) once it resumes sittings.

According to the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI), this will pave way for pending land issues to be addressed when the body becomes operational.

Chairman Ibrahim Mwathane pointed out that the Cabinet should thereafter be able to reverse a directive issued in January this year freezing all transactions on public land.

"You remember in January this year, the Cabinet issued a memorandum freezing all transactions on public land including extensions of leases on public land countrywide. Those kinds of transactions have been pending and they will not move until this commission is operational," he said.

He stated that the move will enable Kenyans do business on public land freely.

"The sooner we get it operating the better for the country. A lot of people are suffering. As soon as it is in place, we expect that the Cabinet will then lift that moratorium and allow Kenyans to transact on public land as they would have wished," he explained.

He further indicated that the Land Commission will act as a watch dog to ensure that no public land is misused.

"The very fundamental reason that we talked about forming a National Land Commission is to ensure that we stem that gross abuse of public land so that we have a more professional outfit that minds public interest as it allocates and manages public land," he said.

He further called for the speedy operationalisation of the Land Act 2012 and the Land Registration Act 2012.

Mwathane said that this will address the situation of land ownership through inheritance where many acquire land legally but do not have titles.

He further pointed out that the National Land Commission Act will also delve into the issue of historical injustices and ways of resolving them.

"If you read section 15 of the National Land Commission Act, it obliges the commission to develop some legal framework or law to resolve historical injustices in this country within two years of its operationalisation so that Parliament can now take over," he said.

He explained that the land laws have guidelines that can be used to resolve conflict between communities.

"If you think again about some of the reasons that have got communities in this country fighting one against the other, it has got to do with either real or perceived historical land injustices so if we are able to now legally and in a very structural manner address those injustices, then we are on our way to stabilising both our social and political platforms in this country," he said.

Mwathane further stated that it is essential for the government to formulate an organised national register of properties in the country if it is to effectively collect tax from landlords and other land owners.

He pointed out that currently, it is not possible to know which property owner is paying or not paying taxes.

He explained that maintaining such an accurate record will further help in revenue collection which can be used in other development projects.

He however observed that for such a record to be put in place and maintained, resources need to be set aside to develop it and competent professionals hired to operate it.

The National Land Commission Act establishes the National Land Commission and as well provides rules for the management and administration of land in accordance with the principles of land policy as outlined in the Constitution and in the national land policy.

The Act further provides for a linkage between the commission, county governments and other institutions dealing with land and land related resources.

The National Land Commission shall manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments.

The Land Act on the other hand provides the mechanism to revise, consolidate and rationalise land laws as well as to provide for the sustainable administration and management of land and land based resources.

The Land Registration Act on its part establishes mechanisms to revise consolidate and rationalize the registration of titles to land, to give effect to the principles and objects of devolved government in land registration and other related purposes.

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