Issuing of title deeds, transfer of land ownership and renewal of land leases are being done as “discretionary guesswork”, in the words of Law Society of Kenya chairman Eric Mutua.
Mrs Ngilu and Dr Swazuri’s wrangles over who has the power to register the land documents has left the ministry in paralysis, meaning that Kenyans applying for bank loans and mortgages may not be able complete their transactions.
The confusion is also creating uncertainty in the financial sector although players in the industry were cautious in their criticism of the power struggles.
“Instructions on registration of land documents are coming from both the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission which has created confusion in the market,” said Mr Mutua.
Differences between the two officials have also delayed the enactment of new land rules and regulations, the appointment of a Commissioner of Lands and two land registrars.
“The ongoing confusion created by the infighting between NLC and the ministry has affected mortgage and loan transactions,” the LSK chairman said.
Such transactions, he said, were now being processed through what he described as “discretionary guesswork”.
However, when contacted, the chief executive officer of the Kenya Bankers Association, Mr Habil Olaka, played down the effects of the differences at the ministry on the banking sector. He, however, said players in the financial market would be adversely affected if the wrangles persist and continue to delay land registration.
The National Land Commission has been preparing the ground to repossess public utility land that was irregularly allocated to politically connected individuals and influential politicians.
The land includes public forests, land set aside for public amenities like schools, hospitals, research centres, playgrounds, road reserves, islands and public parks and other tracts set aside for State corporations and parastatals.
Those who acquired the land have built multi-billion-shilling housing estates, shopping malls, flats, educational institutions and other enterprises.
Mr Mutua said that although the draft land rules and regulations were ready, the ministry was yet to take them to Parliament for scrutiny. The rules were prepared by a committee headed by Dr Swazuri.
“Vetting of land officials is also on hold because of lack of the rules to help vet them,” Mr Mutua said.
Also put on hold were changes to the Land Act, the Land Registration Act and the National Land Commission Act which need to be amended to remove clauses that contradict each other. “The operationalisation of the land laws cannot take place until the rules come into force,” he said.
A development management analyst with Mentor Management, Mr Kelvin Muoria, said registration of titles in Nairobi had always been problematic.