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Surrender grabbed land, Orengo orders

NAIROBI, Kenya – The Ministry of Lands has directed people possessing grabbed land to surrender it within three months failure to which they will be prosecuted and the land repossessed.

Lands Minister James Orengo said on Tuesday that individuals who gave up the land within the grace period would not be prosecuted by the government.

“Those who are willing to surrender (the land) we are giving them the opportunity without resorting into disputes or long processes,” Mr Orengo said.

He further stated that legal proceedings would be instituted against those who will defied the directive.

This is a window.  We are discussing with the Attorney General ways of expediting the process and recovery of this land,” the Cabinet Minister said.

Mr Orengo also warned people who possess huge tracts of land to develop them otherwise the government would revoke the titles, take over the land and give it to needy people.

“If you use the land for anything else, the Commissioner of Lands can re-enter and repossess,” he said and added: “You should read those conditions carefully as provided by the intended National Land Policy which is due next year.  That document is now with the Cabinet office. We are hoping that at any time, the relevant Cabinet committee is going to discuss the draft of the national land policy before it is submitted back.”

Mr Orengo also emphasised the need to look for alternative food sources to avert the current crisis facing the country.

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He was speaking after issuing title deeds for reclaimed land to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute where he stressed the need for research into other types of foods to mitigate the recurring shortages.

“We have a food shortage, and therefore research is important.  Food variety is crucial, so we want also to diversify,” he emphasised.

Mr Orengo further stated the government’s planned to introduce communal title deeds once the new land policy was approved by Parliament.

He said that the titles would give communities and other groups of people a more substantive right over land.

He also explained that the title deeds would protect the interests of communities.

“In as mush as we at the Ministry of Lands would want to protect areas of trust land, many times we are faced with situations where certain county councils have given out large chunks of land to individuals without thinking about the protection of the local communities,” he said.

He also underscored the need to effectively enforce legislation governing land use.

“If you look at the process of land acquisition in Singapore, we have basically the same system. The way it is enforced is what is a little bit different,” he said.

“Where public interest is involved, individual titles would not stand on the way,” he concluded.

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