Kenya’s land grabbers put on notice

August 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The government on Thursday renewed its warning to all those who have grabbed public land to surrender before the new Constitution is promulgated.

Lands Minister James Orengo said the new law gives him immense powers to recover any public land that was illegally acquired.

“Those who are not willing to respect the environment, to respect the planning; they should consider their days numbered. We are not going to think about what you have done on any space if it is a threat to the environment and does not comply with planning regulations,” he said.

Clauses in the ratified Constitution will go a long way into solving several deep-rooted issues on land, including absentee land ownership. Parliament shall enact laws on the minimum and maximum acreage of private land. The maximum period to hold freehold land will also be decreased from 999 to 99 years, according to Article 65 of the new Constitution.

Mr Orengo said his ministry will focus on riparian land, wetlands, road reserves and other public utility lands.

He spoke at his Ardhi House office after meeting with the Local Organizing Committee ahead of the 46th International Society of City and Regional Planners congress that will be held in Nairobi next month.

Speaking on the Congress slated for September 19 to 23 under the theme “Sustainable City, Developing World” Mr Orengo said poor land use planning was the root cause of the chaotic use of land in the country.

The Minister said physical planning helped in the correlation of a myriad of development factors and noted that at the upcoming conference, foreign countries were already seeking home-grown solutions to land use issues.

“The role of physical planning must now become more powerful than any other body dealing with the environment and other land-related issues”, said Mr Orengo.

ISOCARP Local Organising Committee Chairman Mairura Omwenga said the event would boost tourism and play a critical role on economic development.

"Indeed this congress for next year has attracted a lot of attention at the international scene. We are looking at bringing into the country about 1,000 participants and this is a major boost to our economy and development," said Mr Omwenga.

The minister said that the Government was committed towards the success of the Congress and that the country has the capacity to host such big events.

"This congress comes at a time we are involved with matters of Agenda Four one of the issues being land reforms. The joy of this is that we are doing this while talking about a new Constitution," he said.


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