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Rampant land rackets must be stopped now

Thursday May 23 2019

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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The government has to clear the mess in land administration once and for all.

Cartels that have taken over and run roughshod over everyone else must be demolished.

It’s unacceptable that corruption, fraud and violence have come to define land transactions and management.

Much has been spoken and great promises made, but without corresponding results.

Tricksters who have made a career out of conning people through fake land transactions are known. Public officials and their accessories in the chain are also known.

So, what is preventing a ruthless operation to crush the cartels and their hirelings?

FORGERY

As we report today, land ownership rackets are so prevalent that it’s difficult for a genuine buyer to get a clean deal.

Some counties are more notorious, especially those in the outskirts of Nairobi and other large urban areas.

The fraudsters thrive on the vulnerability of the ordinary people seeking land to develop homes or commercial properties.

Generally, land offices across the country are dens of corruption and deceit.

Sneaky professionals — starting from land officers to the police, lawyers and judicial officers and officials of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) — connive to con hapless buyers.

The deals include forgery of titles, share certificates, death certificates and KRA PIN certificates, among others, which are used to fake ownership and facilitate transfers.

DIGITISATION

Notably, numerous cases of fraud lie at the courts, many unresolved, because of sustained acts of deceit that involve falsifying and destroying records through collusion involving the police, lawyers and judicial officers.

Yet, for nearly a decade, the government has been talking of digitising land records to, among others, simplify transactions and eliminate mischief, but there is little to write home about.

Well-publicised events are organised to show the government’s drive to automate land records, which stunts fizzle out as soon as they are launched.

Those acrobatics have not cleaned the rot or sealed loopholes which tricksters use to con people.

Most citizens aspire to own land; it bestows personal security and presents a chance for economic progress.

ECONOMY

Having a land title deed is a ticket out of destitution and promise for stability and fulfilment.

It is recalled that the struggle for independence was intricately intertwined with the fight for land.

Kenyans wanted to reclaim their land, which had been appropriated by White settlers. That same spirit prevails to date. It’s that obsession that creates opportunity for land scams.

Lands offices must be turned upside down, corrupt officials kicked out and brokers and their networks seized and punished.

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