Nakuru County Assembly has approved new legislation meant to regularise land ownership and development in order to forestall land disputes, illegal allotments and shady dealings.
The move comes in the wake of the passing of the Nakuru County Land Management Bill, 2021, which has been forwarded to Governor Lee Kinyanjui for assent.
According to Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Committee Chairperson Stephen Ng’ethe the proposed statute has been crafted to resolve perennial land-related conflicts in the County.
The Bill aims to ensure sanity in the land tenure and adjudication system in Nakuru and outlines procedures and standards for development control, dispute resolution and the regulation of land use.
It will also guide the process of identifying idle land and its management. The new law bars unauthorised development undertaken on any public land from being formalised.
In a move aimed at putting to rest incessant land conflicts in the county, the Bill provides mechanisms that will ensure clear measurement and definition of property boundaries.
It makes it mandatory for identification of the exact position of the land spatially using thematic maps and plans and mapping and spatial representation of the properties for land management and administration.
Vicious land disputes, including those regarded as historical injustices in the region, have been the cause of conflicts among various communities.
Recent clashes between different communities living in the County were linked to unresolved historical land conflicts.
In the past, thorny land issues have led to bloodshed and loss of lives after individuals and communities clashed over ownership.
Some of the cases which involve double allocation of land have resulted in court cases.
Among areas that have witnessed bloodshed due to land conflicts are Naivasha, Njoro, Rongai, Gilgil, Bahati, Molo, Kuresoi South, Mai Mahiu and parts of Mau Narok.
In Naivasha, a controversy over land at Ndabibi, believed to belong to the Agricultural Development Corporation but which members of the Maasai community also lay claim to, has in the past led to the deaths of tens of people.
At the 26,000-acre Ngongongeri land in Njoro, where prominent people are said to have acquired huge tracts of land at the expense of the genuine land owners, bloody conflicts have been experienced in the past.
There have also been disputes involving land that borders the expansive Mau Forest.
In Mariashoni and Kiptunga for instance, the government placed a caveat against parcels of land following protracted disputes.
The Nakuru County Land Management Bill, 2021 also aims to provide for the principles, procedures and standards for preparation, approval, implementation, review, monitoring and oversight of the land issues at the County level.
The Bill also provides a framework for protecting and maintaining priority natural capital assets that support livelihood within the county for key economic activity and co-ordination of land use planning and land development at the county level.
By Jane Ngugi