At total of 33,000 title deeds are currently lying uncollected at the Machakos Lands Registry, County Lands Registrar, Nathan Gathaiya has said.
Briefing the County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CIDCC) at the Machakos County Commissioners office on Wednesday, Gathaiya said the documents which date years back have complicated the filing system in the office which is currently overstretched and lacks ample space.
The officer similarly noted the process of digitizing land documents has been kept on hold after six computers that had been deployed to undertake the exercise were taken back to Nairobi.
He told the committee his office is currently stretched to the limit with little resources and inadequate office space after a plan to open an addition Lands Office in Kithimani area, Yatta Sub County failed to take off as planned.
“The Land Registry was reorganized for purpose of digitization in the year 2015. The actual scanning started in June and the same continued up to August 2017. Bulk of the cards were scanned. The Registry had received six computers for the said exercise; however in December 2019 they were recalled back. We are very optimistic that the exercise will resume very soon enabling us build a stable data bank and enable us migrate from manual to digital records,” he told the committee.
When she visited the Machakos land office in January last year, the Lands Cabinet Secretary (CS), Farida Karoney said the Government was planning to open a new registry in the county to help ease the process of issuing of title deeds to land owners.
Karoney had said the State through her ministry was waiting for funds in the course of the year to speed up the process of setting up the new office which would be based in Yatta Sub County.
She said once complete, the office would also help relieve the large workload at the Machakos land registry which is currently overwhelmed due to the large number of land applications.
She similarly said her ministry was in the process of digitizing all land information in order to ease the process of serving the public.
Gathaiya has however, urged the CIDCC through the County Commissioner (CC), Esther Maina to help the office in disbursing the hundreds of title deeds to the residents in the various sub counties as one way of clearing the current backlog.
The officer has cited the current congestion at the office as a security risk in the event of fire but said his office was working within the available resources to ensure all documents are safe including those being held at the centre due to court cases.
“The increase in the volume of records as a result of subdivision has posed a major problem in our filing system. An attempt to solve the problem by introducing poof box file bidders has worsened the situation as they can hold back more than two months. If a fire breaks out, all the documents will be destroyed,” he added.
Maina has hailed the efforts by the office in handling the large number of people visiting the office to access vital land services despite the challenges and said the committee will recommend more funding to enhance its operations.
She also noted that with the huge number of people visiting the office on a daily basis, the need to have a new office in any of the eight sub counties cannot be underscored.
“As a committee we will recommend for the establishment of a new land registry to help decongestion of the Machakos Land office,” she said.
Since independence the Machakos Land Office has issued a total of 186,992 title deeds which include both freehold and lease hold titles.
The lands Ministry is planning to resume implementing the Digitization Project by March 31, 2020.
By Samuel Maina