What you need to know:
- Influential individuals are reported to have used their positions to grab land which they subdivided into 81 portions and thereafter sold it to unsuspecting developers.
- The launch of the affordable housing project will either be delayed or not get off the ground should the suspected land grabbers, who have taken loans amounting to over Sh11 million, decide to fight back.
The affordable housing project in Kisii County is hanging in limbo after land meant for the venture was transferred to private ownership and used as collateral for bank loans.
As a result, the launch of the project will either be delayed or worse still, it may not get off the ground should the suspected land grabbers, who have taken loans amounting to over Sh11 million, decide to fight back by taking the matter to court.
President William Ruto initiated the housing project in which the government is aiming to build at least 200,000 affordable houses across the country.
The “Nation” has seen letters from the Kisii County’s Lands office and investigating officers showing how the alleged land grabbers and private companies processed documents and transferred public land to private ownership.
Banks which gave loans to the suspected grabbers are at risk of losing their money should the government cancel the land titles used as collateral.
The alleged grabbers have been identified as former civic leaders at the defunct Kisii Municipal Council and some officials who served in the previous Kisii County Government administration.
Influential individuals are reported to have used their positions to grab land which they subdivided into 81 portions and thereafter sold it to unsuspecting developers.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) swung into action and is investigating how some individuals transferred public land into private property at Nyanchwa estate in Kisii town.
“We received reports from the Kisii Land Registrar to the effect that a parcel of land in the Nyanchwa area of Kisii town comprising Kisii Municipality Block One (1) that has been earmarked for the development of affordable housing (Nyanchwa Housing Scheme) and which project the President is set to inaugurate soon has been illegally alienated, subdivided and registered and leases issued in the names of private persons,” read a letter from the EACC.
“The said parcel has indeed been divided into approximately 81 pieces of different sizes registered in the names of different persons and entities. Some of the parcels of land have multiple leases and that is to say that several individual parcels of land are registered in the names of more than one person or entities.”
Riparian land along Daraja Moja River has also been grabbed and a number of hotels have been built on it — literally on top of the river.
The lack of enforcement of rules and severe punishment has emboldened land grabbers who go for any open field; school property and other public institutions in Kisii County.
A former top county official, a former mayor, hangers-on of a former county executive and prominent businessmen have been linked to the Daraja Moja land scandal.
Land meant for the expansion of the Kisii Law Courts and other government institutions has been taken over by private owners. Government housing quarters behind the police station was grabbed by some people associated with the then-ruling party Kanu and sold to businessmen and other unsuspecting individuals.
Kisii residents blame law enforcers and the courts for handling land grabbers with kids’ gloves.
“The court ordered a person who forged my title deed and used it to grab my land located in a prime area of Kisii Municipality to pay a paltry Sh200,000 as damages, yet it had been established that my land was grabbed and occupied for five years. Despite overwhelming evidence of the fraudulent acquisition, the court treated the criminal as if he was a victim of sorts,” said a resident who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“If the courts were to act tough and tighten the noose on land grabbers, then the grabbers would know that it is not business as usual. If nothing drastic is done, even crucial government property will be taken away and sold with impunity,” said the Kisii town resident.