New notice to foreign landowners in Kenya
Updated Sunday, August 18th 2013 at 22:17 GMT +3
|National Land Commission (NLC) has written to Kenya’s missions abroad to help identify foreigners own land in Kenya. [Photo: File/Standard]|
KENYA: Foreigners who own land in the country are reluctant to reveal their identities and particulars of the land in their possession, authorities have disclosed.
This comes as a review of lease conditions is under way after the Constitution decreed that non-citizens may hold land on the basis of leasehold tenure only, and that such leases shall not exceed 99 years.
Consequently, the National Land Commission (NLC) has written to Kenya’s missions abroad to help identify foreigners owning land in Kenya after an earlier notice was ignored.
Kenya’s missions abroad will circulate a new 30-day notice asking foreigners to declare their assets in Kenya and also engage foreign governments in tracing the landowners.
This follows reluctance by the non-citizens to disclose details of the land they hold in Kenya upon expiry of the notice issued in June that required them to present their leases to the commission.
NLC has announced that a 60-day ultimatum announced in June for this category of landowners to declare and formalise their assets has expired without cooperation from them.
The NLC chairman, Dr Mohamed Swazuri, said although he did not have figures of foreign land owners at the moment, the number of those that had complied with the June ultimatum were few.
But he implied that the NLC could be holding some information as he warned that “they must comply because if they do not we will go after them”, without elaborating.
The Standard has established that Italian landowners in Malindi are among those who are yet to comply with NLC’s directive.
Reports also show that British, Omani, and German nationals are among foreign landowners at the Coast, in Nairobi and Rift Valley regions.
Other reports show that some of them have claimed they had travelled out of Kenya when the notice to register was declared over two months ago.
“Many foreigners are still reluctant to come out and declare their properties,” said Dr Swazuri.
“We have given these people 30 more days to come out and register their land,” said Dr Swazuri who indicated that the new deadline would not be extended but added that the NLC had written to the foreign missions in order to reach all foreign landowners living abroad.
“We are sending information to all diplomatic missions to ensure all foreign land owners are aware of the regularisation exercise,” he said.
He spoke at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort on Friday evening where he made a presentation at the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya (ICSPK) annual conference.
In June, the Commission had issued a 60-day notice for non-citizens to register their land afresh but the response has been slow.
In late July, Dr Swazuri disclosed that close to 100 foreigners had owned up to owning land in Kenya with 35 of them being in Coast region alone.
The foreigners, many of who hold 999-year leases, are required to have them reviewed to 99 years to comply with the Constitution.
The ICPSK chairman, Ms Catherine Musakali, among other officials, addressed the conference.
Participants raised concerns that the ministry of Lands was still corrupt and wondered how the commission would resolve the crisis.
At the same time, Dr Swazuri said a draft report by the Committee on Evictions and Resettlement has come up with a recommendation that landowners should state where squatters should be moved to.
“We have received the draft report which provides that landowners state where to take the squatters. It seeks to give eviction a human face where landowners can give part of their land to squatters,” he said.
He said the Commission was also fast-tracking regulations that would enable it to begin the issuance of title deeds. The regulations are supposed to be ready to be presented to Cabinet next month.
The government has so far ordered that 60,000 title deeds held in various land offices at the Coast be released to land owners this month.
Dr Swazuri admitted that brokers were conspiring with corrupt lands officials to defraud unsuspecting Kenyans by issuing fake title deeds.
According to Dr Swazuri, title deeds issued for the controversial Syokimau plots in Nairobi were fake.
He said automation of the lands registries would ease the flow of relevant information and eliminate corruption. He, however, claimed that since the Commission started operations, corruption at the Ardhi House in Nairobi has been cut down by more than 50 per cent as brokers have been locked out.