A cartel consisting land brokers and errant government officers is on the loose in Siaya County, targeting lands whose owners died but families were yet to legally file succession in court.
According to Siaya County Commissioner Michael ole Tialal, several residents of the county have fallen prey to the cartel and only come to realise that things are bad when strangers invade their land.
Speaking during a one-day public participation forum organised by the National Council for Population and Development, the County Commissioner said that the cartels consisted of errant lands registry staff, national government administrators and even Directorate of Criminal Investigations staff.
“I am aware some of my officers and CID officers are involved in this cartel but at the end of the day, we shall dismantle it and deal with the members,” he said.
He said that the problem is exacerbated by the locals who failed to file land succession to enable them change ownership from their parents or grandparents.
“Cases where even educated people like professors still live in lands registered in the names of their great grand fathers are rampant. They have never bothered to file succession to change ownership,” noted the Commissioner.
He said that the cartels, after identifying open lands and those still registered in the names of people who died decades ago, forged identity cards and other documents which they use to issue title deeds and sell them to unsuspecting buyers.
Tialal however said that the government has started the process of cleaning up the mess by recalling all illegally issued title deeds and warned that those who did not follow the due process stood to lose.
“Under the law, a land registrar cannot directly transfer to any person or beneficiary any land without going through the succession procedures in court and anyone who was cheated into parting with money through short cut will lose,” he warned.
The County Commissioner at the same time challenged Siaya residents to embrace farming and improve on their livestock to improve the local economy.
“The county is blessed with brains and the literacy level is high,” he said adding “the only challenge affecting this population is laziness”.
He said it was embarrassing that nearly all the food consumed in the county comes from outside while huge chunks of land was left idle.
Tialal said that it was high time Siaya residents embraced sustainable land use and planted more trees to enable the county improve its tree cover from the current 0.4%.
By Philip Onyango