NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Ardhi House was on Monday closed to members of the public in an exercise Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu termed as “a cleanup of the Nairobi and Central Land Registries.”,
Ngilu explained that the exercise, which is expected to take 10 days, will see the ministry biometrically register all records for easier searches.
“We gave notice to the public before today that we were going to remain closed; total shut down… and we will resume operations on the May 19.”
“The reason is that we have decided to take audit of our registries, the total number of files in the registries is three million and it has become increasingly difficult for our officers to access the files and give effective services to the public.”
“Members of the public have been very frustrated many times when they come here and can’t find their files or find that their land has been transferred to somebody else.”
“It might be inconveniencing for people but it might as well happen so that we can sort the mess that we have here so that we can serve people more efficiently.”
“This is not my decision; this has been sanctioned within the government and the Executive.”
“During this time we will install a filing system and CCTV cameras inside the registry so that we can see the people that go in and the activities they carry out while inside,” she explained.
Speaking at the ministry offices, Ngilu explained that those fighting the operation have ill motives adding that it would continue, irrespective of the opposition.
“Some people are complaining that there is no service going on at the ministry. Yes, those are the few that are used to coming here and running their crooked business but for the upright Kenya we are on our way to making reforms,” she said.
However Ngilu’s decision to close office was met by strong opposition with the National Lands Commission vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe saying that they were not consulted prior.
“We are surprised to see the notice in the newspaper when we are in the Supreme Court to seek to clarity of mandates between the two of us so why all this running around before the court ruling? We do not understand.”
“We want to remind the CS that the National Land Commission is an independent commission that was established under the Constitution.”
“We are responsible to the people of Kenya through the Parliament and the President.”
“Land reforms are not about arranging files; land reforms are about securing peoples interests.”
“Why she is getting involved with the commission we do not understand,” an agitated Mukolwe explained.
Mukolwe further warned Ngilu of interfering with their own land registries saying that theirs were out of bounds.
“We want the operation by Ngilu halted with immediate effect until the courts make a ruling on our mandate and thereafter we have to create a technical committee that will incorporate people from both the ministry and the commission in the exercise,” she demanded.
In the same forum, Ngilu announced the appointment of Jane Ndiba as the Chief Lands Registrar.
Ngilu said that she was appointed following a rigorous interview session by the Public Service Commission and in her capacity, Ndiba will be able to sign land title deeds.
Last year, the CS found herself in trouble with the National Assembly after she appointed Peter Kahuho as Director General in her office.
MPs Joseph Gitari, Aghostinho Neto, Alex Mwiru and Moses ole Sakuda demanded to know under what law Ngilu appointed Kahuho as the Lands Director General yet the position does not appear in the Constitution, the Land Act or any other law.