21 April 2019

Kenya: Homeowners Risk Eviction in Kajiado Over Fake Land Deals

If your plan is to own a piece of land in Kajiado County or you already have one, be on the lookout following revelations that cartels are targeting unsuspecting clients wishing to settle in the vast region.

It has also emerged that houses worth hundreds of millions of shillings might be demolished in all satellite towns in Kajiado after buyers were duped into purchasing urban centre plots owned by other people.

Most of these business and residential homeowners were allocated town plots already sold or issued to other people.

Several people have been occupying land without sale agreements or allotment letters. Other pieces of land have multiple allotment letters with different people paying different sums of money to different entities for the same land.

Some plots are being claimed by more than three people, all of whom have been paying land rates to the county government.

An ongoing Kajiado plots validation exercise has opened a can of worms, revealing that land brokers have been fleecing unsuspecting buyers in an intricate web of corruption.

The exercise is meant to identify genuine plot owners in all satellite towns.

With no official register indicating owners of the plots under the county jurisdiction, county land officers have been carrying out the exercise manually under heavy police presence.

Each plot owners is required to produce ownership documents.

Kajiado registrar Philip Murkuku said the county was cleaning up the mess through validation of plots in various urban centres. Many of them are said to have been allocated by the defunct Olkejuado County Council.

"The mess is deep-rooted in all urban centres. Unscrupulous land brokers have been minting millions of shillings by purporting to sell county land to unsuspecting buyers, to whom they issue fake allotment letters. We have come up with a new-generation allotment letter to be issued to genuine landowners," he said.

The validation process has seen more than 24,000 plots given a clean bill of health while another 225 plots have been invalidated for illegal allocation and ownership. More than 2,100 allotments are fake.

County Land executive Hamilton Persaina said they would implement a spatial plan after validation of all plots, which would be concluded later this year.

Tension ignited

"I fear losing a place I have been calling home for the past 10 years.

"I bought the plot from a local businessman only to realise during the plot's validation exercise that my allotment is fake. The genuine plot owner is demanding that I move out immediately. Most business people may be forced to bring down their buildings," said Muhamed Saidi, a trader in Namanga.

The fear of losing prime properties has sparked tension, with chaos reported in some urban centres.

Two weeks ago, mayhem marred the exercise in Namanga. Two people who were claiming the same plot fought each other, sustaining injuries.

Namanga is a business magnet for people eyeing cross-border trade between Kenya and Tanzania. This makes land buyers easy prey for brokers. The border town has 5,200 allotment letters against 3,200 plots. Some of the 2,000 fake allotment holders have already set up residential or business premises. Most of these buildings will be brought down for the rightful owners of the plots to occupy their land.

Some land grabbers have also taken possession of public utility plots, including those meant for hospitals and schools. The plots have since been sold illegally to private developers.

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