Kenya: Getting Land for Public Utilities Impossible, Governor Khaemba Says

Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba has formed an 11-member task force to address the challenge of inadequate records of public land, which has allowed unscrupulous individuals to grab land meant for key public amenities.

The task force has been given six months to prepare an inventory of all public land in the county, ascertain the ownership and the process of acquiring the said ownership, make recommendations on the nullification of fraudulent land title deeds by necessary authorities and repossession of all irregularly acquired public land.

The task force comes as Mr Khaemba said the county had a big challenge of finding public land for development, owing to what he said was a move by the now defunct Kitale Municipal and Nzoia County councils to abet cases of land grabbing.

"The encroachment of public land has been a big challenge in Trans Nzoia County. This has caused major delays in projects implementation and unwarranted conflicts with the people when a public space wrongfully occupied has to be vacated for development," said Mr Khaemba.

With Kitale's population having more than doubled in the past decade, Mr Khaemba said, more land was required for its growth and expansion, especially considering its status as a county headquarter at a time devolution was taking root in the country.

Lying idle

"Trans Nzoia County is vast in terms of landmass. However, the biggest challenge I have faced as a Governor is finding land for public investments. During my first term, I wanted to put up a milling plant but I could not get ready public land," lamented Governor Khaemba.

The task force, he said, will, therefore, be charged with inquiring, mandating, and reporting on all matters affecting public land in the region.

"We are working with the National Government through the National Land Commission (NLC) and the National Titling Programme to secure tenure for public utilities and the residents of the County," said the county boss.

Trans Nzoia County also hosts public interest lands through Institutions like Kenya Agricultural Research Organization (Karlo), Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), Kenya Railways (KR), Kitale Airstrip, Kitale Museum, and Kenya Wildlife Kenya Service (KWS), to name but a few.

Members of the task force are Habiud Wasike, Diana Wabwile, Simon Chebii, Kipkorir Lagat, Emmanuel Mutange, Dorothy Nyukuri, Mourice Barasa, Margaret Kogu, Robert Wasike, Zachaeus Kitui and Patrick Nyongesa.

Governor Khaemba complained of the shortage of space for the expansion of towns in the region, noting that Kitale town was the most affected.

"Half the town is forest while some of its land was grabbed with the rest belonging to the railways and lying idle. We want you to help us get part of the land for expansion," Mr Khaemba said.

The county boss also said land belonging to the Kitale Prison Annex should be surrendered to expand the bus park that was initially five acres but has shrunk to about an acre.

The National Commission of Lands has promised to investigate the emotive Chepchoina settlement scheme on the border of Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties to ascertain claims of fraudulent allocations in phase two.

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