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Wahome puts rogue Land Registrars on notice

The Government will no longer spare officers implicated in cases involving fraudulently acquired land.

Speaking while officiating the National tree growing day at Gathiuru Forest Station Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome termed fake land deals as one of the headaches currently dogging her ministry.

She said for many years, hundreds of helpless Kenyans have lost their hard-earned money and property under the hands of unscrupulous crooks working in cahoots with land registration officers and said the time has come to root out such elements from the government.

“In my ministry, the biggest challenge I have concerns land because there are some people whose work from morning to evening is to devise ways and means of how they can swindle other people’s pieces of land. These individuals are so calculative and may spend up to five years before they strike and defraud you of your piece of land. Some time back they were being assisted by officers from my ministry but we have agreed as a ministry that there is nobody who will survive as an officer of the Government if you will deliberately assist in defrauding a Kenyan of their property. Personally, I will not spare you,” warned the CS.

Wahome also vowed to enhance service delivery at the ministry including ensuring those working under her are efficient and accountable in serving the public in line with Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

She noted that much of the rot that had given the ministry a bad name in the eyes of the public was perpetuated by a few corrupt officials who used their officers as a conduit to acquire ill wealth by swindling poor Kenyans.

She promised the public to use her legal experience in tackling the challenge of illegal land transactions which she said formed the root of the many problems that has plagued the ministry since independence.

“I am a lawyer and I understand all processes of transferring land from one person to another. But I can now warn them (corrupt officers) to stop because there is no way land can be stolen without facilitation from the officers (land registrars). The officers know. It is very rare to sell a property without proper interrogation. I am just using this platform to send further notice to land registrars and to our surveyors, if these two-officers work within the law and in according to the constitution they will eradicate theft of public property,” stated Wahome who led in planting 10,000 tree seedlings geared towards rehabilitating the Forest station that once served as a Mau Mau operation zone.

In 2017, the then Director of Survey Cesare Mbaria had indicated that Kenyans were losing up to Sh60 billion annually through fraudulent transactions despite the existence of laws protecting them.

The bulk of the losses were due to losses in land rates, unending court cases and lost investments through disputed land.

On forest rehabilitation efforts, the CS urged officials from both the National and County Government to work with members of the public in addressing the existential threat posed by climate change by undertaking an aggressive tree planting campaign during the ongoing rains.

She lamented the sheer destruction evident at the Gathiuru Forest Station which once teemed with ‘singing’ woods of indigenous trees but has now been reduced to scattered bushes and tall elephant grass and appealed to residents to support the call by President Dr. William Ruto in planting 15 billion trees by 2032 to help address the gap.

Nyeri is expected to plant a total of 250 million trees within the same period. “Each county is to plant 250 million trees in ten years and there is no turning back. This is a presidential decree and it must be followed to the latter. This area (Gathiuru) used to be a Mau Mau operational area but has now been cleared of all vegetation. I want to commend the President for this noble idea (national growing day) since we were headed in the wrong direction where our forests were soon going to be extinct,” she said.

She turned down a request by area MCA Charity Wangui to allow locals to cultivate in the rehabilitated land while taking care of the trees, warning that doing so would defeat the very purpose of conserving the area.

“I personally cannot allow a request by area MCA Charity Wangui to allow farmers back into this piece of land because this is a natural forest. The ecosystem is not just the trees but includes what is inside including the fauna and flora and we are not supposed to touch anything. The issue of the Shamba system applies in plantations but natural forests must be conserved,” underscored the CS.

The government intends to plant 500 million tree seedlings during the nationwide tree-planting exercise by the end of today.

Ruto was to lead the national tree planting event at the Kiu Wetlands in Makueni, with similar exercises planned across the 47 counties.

As part of its greening and restoration efforts, the Head of State has pledged that the government would secure and protect public forests, and rehabilitate and restore all degraded water towers and other forest ecosystems across the country.

The Kenya Forest Service is targeting to plant a total of 10.6 million trees under the Jaza Miti Initiative which was launched by President Ruto in November last year.

Last week, County Ecosystem Conservator Moses Wahome told KNA they were targeting farmers and public institutions to attain the target while taking advantage of the ongoing rainy season.

So far, KFS has managed to distribute at least 5.5 million tree seedlings to farmers, schools, churches and local community-based groups for planting since November last year following Dr Ruto’s drive for the country to plant 15 billion tree seedlings within a decade.

“Our target for Nyeri is 10.6 million trees for the next five years and those are the seedlings that I have been given to raise and it should be in tandem with what we will actually plant. By now, we have planted 5.5 million trees since the start of the Jaza Miti program around November,” said Wahome.

The Jaza Miti initiative is a presidential directive in which Safaricom in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Forest alongside other State ministries came up with an ambitious nationwide drive to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.

The proponents have also come up with an App dubbed ‘JazaMiti’ available on Google Play Store and iPhone Operating System (IOS).

The App facilitates and enhances tree planting programmes by allowing users to select suitable tree species for planting based on their location, document trees growth over time in a bid to aid the fight against Climate Change.

According to the National Forest Resources Assessment Report, the country’s forest cover stands at 8.83 per cent.

Nyeri County has three times the nationally recommended 10 per cent forest cover and a tree cover of 45.17 per cent.

Forest plantations currently cover at least 335,000 acres in all gazetted reserves of Kenya including the Mount Kenya, Aberdare, Mau Forest Complex, Cherangani Hills and Mt

Also present during today’s event Nyeri were Mutahi Kahiga, Central Regional Commissioner Fredrick Shisia, County Commissioner Pius Murugu, Kieni legislator Wainaina Njoroge Cieni and a host of heads of departments and staff from national government ministries and state agencies.

By Samuel Maina and Wangari Mwangi




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