Mavoko: Ardhi House cartels' handiwork rearing it's ugly head

Demolished houses

Demolished houses built on Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos County, on October 17, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

In September 2021, then-Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney reported a major hitch in her ambition to digitise land records.

She dejectedly noted that, if she were to convert the millions of the dusty paper files into digital documents, she would have to enlist the services of the staff who precipitated the mess.The mess is countrywide and is the reason behind strange occurrences in land buying.

A recent media investigation revealed how a land-buying company gave clients fake title deeds for plots ‘for sale’ it did not own!Digitisation of the lands registries has been countered by a myriad obstacles, the fiercest opponents being elements steeped deep in the ministry.

The gangs seem to hold every CS hostage.The demolition of homes in Athi River, Mavoko, in Machakos County profiles what the Lands ministry cartels are capable of.

All the title deeds involved were okayed by the highest levels of lands authorities and the buyers had no doubt to the property ownership. Now the officials who issued the title deeds, and the brokers, have disappeared.

Once more, the effects of land cartels are with us; the biggest effects coming in the form of uncompromising bulldozers which won’t rest until all development on ‘private land’ has come down.

A friend rang me on Tuesday to tell me that his 10-year-old son had approached the bulldozer’s operator to help him to look for his motorcycle in the rubble; he couldn’t also find his left sock.

The Lands ministry is yet to embrace the digital divide and any effort to stifle the effort is countered effectively.

We previously had the Syokimau evictions, which occurred along the Mavoko fault lines. If this be a trait that will keep replaying itself, citizens will demand to know how long is forever.

The ministry must reinvent itself as the thirst for land balloons and take the flak for all the flaws that come with title deeds. How else can land investors confidently stake their money?

- Kabaria ole Muturi, Nyeri