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Freeze in land transfers lifted in Nairobi, Kajiado

Property transactions in major urban centres such as Nairobi, Kajiado and Kiambu have resumed after a three-month lull following the appointment of land control boards in 10 counties.

Land secretary Jacob Kaimenyi announced the new boards that also include Nakuru, Makueni, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Nyandarua and Tharaka Nithi counties through a Kenya Gazette notice.

The minister is yet to name boards in 21 counties, stalling the sale and leasing of agricultural property.

RELIEF

The reconstitution of land boards in the urban counties will come as a relief to property dealers and developers whose operations had stalled.

The boards oversee and must give consent for the sale, transfer, lease, mortgage, exchange, partition or other dealings with any agricultural land in their areas.

The freeze in agricultural land transactions is also hurting other critical sectors like banking and real estate on reduced lending and property development respectively.

Explosive population growth and expansion of most towns has seen real estate grow into agricultural land especially in counties like Kiambu and Kajiado with vast tracts of land subdivided to small units for sale.

Much of the demand is also riding on Kenyans’ love affair with investment in plots of land, which has seen the increased sub-division of agricultural property.

SUB-DIVISION

The sub-division must be approved by the boards meaning that the three-month absence has stalled the plans of thousands looking to buy land and build their houses.

The government in April disbanded all the land control boards on corruption allegations and promised to reconstitute them in two weeks.

Prof Kaimenyi said there had been serious allegations of corruption among board officials which included favouring well-connected members in society for kickbacks.

The task of reconstituting the boards was given to county commissioners but some failed to comply with the appointment process and conditions stipulated by the Land ministry occasioning the delay.

GENDER RULE

Among the conditions that had been set was the new boards reflect the two-thirds gender rule and incoming members vetted with the public allowed to contribute to the process. Members of previous boards were also not eligible for reappointment.

The Institute of Surveyors of Kenya has criticised Prof Kaimenyi, saying that the slow reconstitution of the boards has stalled thousands of land transactions across the country.

The boards, with a membership of 12 people, are chaired by county commissioners and include a land administration officer and sub-county land officer.