Kenya surveyors push land policy

July 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – The Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) now wants Parliament to prioritise debate on the draft National Land Policy that has been approved by Cabinet.

Chairman Mwenda Makathimo said on Tuesday that the policy must be implemented urgently to resolve historical injustices that have arisen due to land conflicts.

He urged the private sector to join hands with the government to improve the land policy.

“The knowledge that professionals have will be tapped so that the vehicles and tools to deliver land reforms are done with empirical evidence and to have innovative tools and solutions,” he stated.

“It is critical. It is crucial. We have no options because opting otherwise would be opting to destroy the country,” he added.

Speaking at the same time, the Association of Professional Societies of Kenya chairman Daniel Ichang’i stressed the need to solve land problems promptly.

“2012 is a very critical date. We have barely three years. If the experience of 2007/2008 is anything to go by, we must not lose opportunity to do what we can in terms of peace what we cannot do in terms violence,” Mr Ichang’i said.

Following the approval of the National Land Policy at a Cabinet meeting last month, it is waiting to be submitted to Parliament as a sessional paper for debate and approval.

This will lead to the drafting of various laws relating to land ownership.

Lands Minister James Orengo had pointed out that the implementation of the policy  which proposes a radical shift in management of land would require up to Sh9 billion to implement.

A highlight of the policy is a provision that will see all private land revert to the State in case the owner dies without picking an heir or in the absence of any legally binding claim to the land.

The policy also recognises the rights of spouses and children in the distribution of private land. It also recognises the rights of women in sharing of community land.

It further promises to revert all government land at the Coast to communities – a thorny issue among residents in the province who have for years accused absentee landlords of rendering them squatters after illegally acquiring their land.

Mr Orengo had said that the policy would help correct historical injustices against pastoral communities by recovering trust lands illegally acquired and returning them to the affected communities.

The policy further states that the State will have the right to acquire land or to control development, but those affected will be adequately compensated.

Rich land owners, who keep huge chunks of land idle for speculative purposes, have cause to worry. They will now have to pay tax for such land. The aim is to encourage maximum land use, Mr Orengo said.

The adoption of the policy was a crucial aspect towards the realisation of Agenda Four of the National Accord, which spells out various measures to correct and punish historical injustices to avoid a recurrence of the violence that rocked the country early last year.


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