Some 70,000 residents of Nakuru County have been issued with title deeds in the past one month, during the ongoing titling program initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta two years ago.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui however has expressed concern that a high number of land disputes pending in Nakuru courts are slowing the program meant to issue title deeds to at least 100,000 land owners by end of the year.
Mr Kinyanjui indicated that the title deeds had been given out to land owners within Kuresoi South, Naivasha, Rongai, Njoro, Subukia, Bahati and Gilgil Sub Counties.
He added that a further 20,000 title deeds will be issued to landowners in Mai Mahiu and Longonot in Naivasha Sub-County and in Kabatini, Githioro and Dundori locations within Bahati Sub-County by June this year.
Other beneficiaries will be drawn from Polepole, Salgaa, Muchorwe and Kibunja villages within Subukia, Rongai, Kuresoi South and Molo Sub-Counties respectively.
Kinyanjui said, “The County is also working closely with the national government to oversee the issuance of 3,000 Land lease rights within Nakuru City. This will assist in the growth and development of Nakuru as a City. We have also secured all our public utilities across the county to protect it from land grabbers.
We however caution the beneficiaries, who have yearned for the document for long, not to use it as a ticket to dispose of their land. We will institute measures to make sure that the land is protected from arbitrary disposal,” he affirmed.
The governor said more than 50 per cent of cases in courts across the county revolved around land. He observed that issuance of the title deeds was a game-changer for the squatters as they could now invest in better houses without fear of evictions.
Kinyanjui noted that for a long time, many land owners across the county have been unable to use their property to access credit and face land disputes because they lack ownership documents.
Senior Planner at the Department of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Mr Justin Mayaka stated that the ongoing tilting process was being undertaken by the national government in conjunction with County administration.
He, at the same time, added that the national government had seconded lands officers to the county to hasten the process.
“The officers who include surveyors, planners and registration personnel are working with those from the county to ensure no one is left behind in the ongoing process.
We have trained officers from the county and national government on Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms to reduce the number of land disputes finding their way to law courts,” Mayaka pointed out.
He decried the rising cases of conflicts involving land particularly in Gilgil-Sub-County, adding that many residents had been waiting for the documents for too long.
“There have been prolonged disputes over Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) land at Ndabibi. We are working with ADC to identify real beneficiaries with genuine allotment letters and issue them with title deeds before end of the year,” he assured.
Deputy Governor Dr. Erick Korir urged the beneficiaries to invest in the land they had been allocated. “You are now carrying gold. If you use it well, it will transform your life.”
He stated that issuance of the land ownership documents further cements the county administration’s commitment to improve living conditions in settlements through the infrastructural development and land ownership.
“Please don’t sell the land. The first step out of poverty is ownership,” he said, adding that issuance of title deeds will shield vulnerable families from evictions and eradicate inequalities.
By Jane Ngugi and Charloth Chepkemoi