, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – The public has been warned against purchasing land in the Athi River region of Machakos District until outstanding land issues are resolved.
Internal Security PS Francis Kimemia said on Tuesday that no further land transactions should be processed until a taskforce that is investigating irregular land allocations completes its work.
He told a joint Parliamentary committee probing recent demolitions on land supposedly owned by the Kenya Airports Authority that the area has over the past two years been characterised by land disputes, where people invade public and private land and allocate themselves illegal plots using well-organised brokers.
“In some cases, we have had to create security squads to wade off Kenyans from being duped into buying public and private land, because we think this impunity needs to be nipped urgently,” said the PS.
Kimemia said that conmen had now turned to private land whose owners are usually classified as absentee landlords. He added that the government is in the process of coming up with measures to guarantee the sanctity of the title as they await the formation of the National Lands Commission.
The PS said: “This so called companies and groups, transacting land should first seek approval from the land control boards and provincial or district security committees.”
Lands PS Dorothy Angote who appeared after Kimemia at the committee hearings called for tough sanctions to deal with organised groups which are behind the trade with intention of stealing and selling land to private developers.
“The criminals have come to believe that when you deal in land, and when you are taken to court the case will take 20 years, even if you are convicted the sentence or fine is very light,” she complained.
She cited a case where some brokers had tried to dispose of land worth Sh90 million but they were handed a fine of Sh400,000.
“If you know that you can take your chances in coming up with fake documents and even when you are convicted you will be fined 400,000 why would anyone not take their chances?”
Local Government PS Karega Mutahi also appeared before the committee in the afternoon session.
The probe is among others expected to identify all inconsistencies, irregularities and officials involved in land scandals.
Angote told the committee that there was only one Title Deed to the controversial Syokimau Land. The PS says the land was acquired compulsorily by the government in 1971 and those occupying it then were duly compensated.
She says the Title Deed to Syokimau land shows there has never been any alteration or excision.
He said; “The file has never gone missing, the file has never been lost and I took time to look at the records and the movements of this file. It has always been available since 1996”
She further told the Mutava Musyimi-led joint committee that any search on the piece of land would obviously indicate that the title deed belong to KAA.
Her statement come a week after the Commissioner of Lands told the committee that documents produced by those claiming ownership of the land were forged.
Earlier, the Internal Security Permanent Secretary told the committee that the government would provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the demolitions as they seek alternative settlement.