, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – It now turns out that the title to Kenya\’s landmark building, the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, had amazingly been transferred to an individual, but it has been re-possessed and handed back to the State.
The seizure is part of a programme where 500 public utility plots valued at Sh5 billion have been reclaimed and their Title Deeds handed over to the relevant government institutions.
Speaking when the title for KICC was handed over to the Ministry of Tourism, Lands Minister James Orengo stressed the government\’s commitment to preserve all institutional lands.
"Our hope now lies in the fast tracking of the establishment of a National Land Commission. We want (the) Commission in place like yesterday which will now take over the administration of public land all over the Republic," he said.
The Lands Minister called on all district land officers to prepare an inventory of undocumented public land and forward the list to the Ministry for immediate action.
"The other lot goes to the Provincial Administration and Internal Security where for example like in Kakamega, all the pieces of land belonging to the police stations had been grabbed," he said.
"We also have land belonging to various local authorities, Nairobi City Council, Mombasa Municipal Council etc."
Prime Minister Raila Odinga put all land grabbers on notice and prevailed upon them to return any public property in their possession.
The Premier pointed out that such people slowed down development in the properties they hold by locking out potential investors by selling them at high price compared to other countries in the region.
He further called on the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) to step up its efforts in dealing with unscrupulous individuals.
The Premier said such action will reduce the level of land grabbing which has been prevalent in the country.
"He (KACC Director Patrick Lumumba) has told us a lot of things recently. We now want to see him biting. They say that barking dogs seldom bite but we want to see him beginning to bite," he said. "Now we want to see some of these big fish brought to book to give a clear sign that the era of impunity is gone and gone forever."
On his part, the anti-graft czar said that KACC would move expeditiously in its quest to reduce impunity.
Mr Lumumba said his organisation has already begun working on cases of illegal land acquisitions and said the Title Deeds of such owners will be revoked.
He described this as some of the initiatives being undertaken by KACC to reduce corruption in government institutions.
"This is a clear indication that we are biting and we will continue to fight. Remember that corruption must be fought the way you fight jiggers. You do not remove jiggers from the top, you remove it from the side," he said.
"That is why we are saying we would rather revoke the titles and those who think they are victims can go to court and we defend (the suits) rather than going to court ourselves and then we are detained."
Mr Odinga said the country had lost revenue as a result of investors sidestepping the country. He lauded the formation of the National Land Commission under the new Constitution saying it would bring sanity to matters pertaining to land.
"That is now the institution that is going to be vested with powers over land. Gone are the days when allocation of land rested on only two individuals – the President and the Commissioner of Lands," he said.