Nairobi News

General

Address the Nairobi land problem

Land in Nairobi and its surroundings has become a big problem and to use a cliché, an obvious ticking time bomb.

As the middle class grows and demands space to put up houses, this can only get worse.

Nairobi’s Kasarani, Embakasi, Ruai and Njiru areas are the most worrying case.

Largely owned by absentee landlords and controversial land-buying companies, they present a major headache to home owners who have to contend with insecurity and fear of losing the land.

Ruai in particular is a special case where families are increasingly building homes on the strength of spurious pieces of paper called ‘certificate’ or mere receipts.

If Syokimau where buildings were razed by the government even as home owners clung to such papers is anything to go by, most Ruai people could be termed as squatters.

It is even more saddening to hear the government wring its hands in helplessness. According to the provincial administration disputes here are swiftly referred to courts or police.

The National Land Commission (NLC) should step in and sort the matter.

It should especially make sure that large land buying companies like Embakasi Ranching and Mbo-I-Kamiti are dissolved. This should happen after they have shared out the land amongst genuine members.

Ideally, because of massive double allocation and fraud that has attended such ventures, it would be prudent for the NLC to carry out an audit of such companies.

This would of course be fiercely contested by those who benefit from the companies, but it is necessary.

Why, for instance, does a land-buying company exist for decades despite having bought land only once?

What is clear is that the more the companies linger, the more threat to security they become as land is reallocated for the umpteenth time and the true owner becomes hard to determine.

The sad thing is that external forces have entered the fray to further murk up matters. Illegal groups and idle youth are thriving in the chaos.

Security issue

The government, the NLC and security forces need to see this for what it is: a security issue. If not addressed, it has the potential of being replicated in other areas where large tracts are unused.

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