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Taskforce, NLC engage public on contentious land leases

Taskforce Chairperson Ibrahim Mwathane said he expects their recommendations to greatly impact land development, land ownership and land reforms in the country/MUTHONI NJUKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – A taskforce established to look into the extension and renewal of land leases has exuded confidence that historical land injustices will be addressed by new laws.

Speaking during a public hearing with the Asian community and Kakuzi villagers, the Taskforce Chairperson Ibrahim Mwathane said he expects their recommendations to greatly impact land development, land ownership and land reforms in the country.

“Throughout the history of Kenya there has not been a taskforce that has been appointed or established to look into the issue land leases, this is a very unique and technical area also. Sometimes when you get working on these taskforces, what you do is apply yourself on the job, you get public feedback and incorporate that into the report of the taskforce.”

“But you cannot and one cannot go the level of pre-empting the actions of the Executive, “he said.

The 11-member team which is appointed in February on a six month mandate will have to determine whether due process was followed in the renewal of land leases since 2010.

Mwathane, a renowned expert on land matters said they will restrict themselves to analysing and reviewing the existing policy, legal and institutional framework on processing of extension and renewal of the leases.

The team that has six months to deliver unless the duration is extended by the Lands Cabinet Secretary, will be expected to make recommendations to address existing gaps and weaknesses in the process.

They are also required to “make recommendations on the actions to be taken against all those individuals who have been involved in the fraudulent renewal and extension of leases.”

The task force will also establish if there are any initiatives taken to convert land with expired leases either to community or public land and the implications of such undertakings.

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At the same time, National Land Commissioner Isaiah Lenachuru said they are finalising regulations that will adequately tackle land ownership disputes that remain a time bomb, including affecting investor confidence in the country, if not properly addressed.

“These regulations will be able to inform us and the people complaining as per what is a land injustice; we will have clear criteria of accepting of eliminating an issue. Then from there, if it transpires that this land they are claiming is under lease-hold, we will know what are we going to recommend.”

“Are we going to recommend that this land; once the lease is expired; we renew it or we share this land between this people,” said Lenachuru.

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