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Get titles for public lands



Get titles for public lands

The worrying and shocking details that continue to emerge on the lack of land ownership documents for public assets call for urgent attention.

Members of the task force into the welfare of police officers and prison warders were this week shocked to learn that the title deed to the land on which stands Shimo la Tewa Maximum Security Prison, in Mombasa County, cannot be traced.

The land, measuring more than 800 acres, also hosts schools such as Shimo la Tewa Boys, Mama Ngina Girls and Boston Institute, as well as Shanzu Law Courts.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg; the problem is much bigger. Public schools, hospitals, airports, police stations and universities, among others, are at risk of land grabbers, squatters and other encroachers due to a lack of title deeds. 

A National Lands Commission (NLC) report in 2020 showed that only 2,556 of the country’s 27,943 public schools have title deeds for the land they occupy.

In 2020, then-President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Ministry of Lands to issue title deeds to all learning institutions and the documents registered in the names of school committees and management boards. Not much has changed since then.

Last year, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) revealed that it had recovered 39 title deeds for public property worth Sh5.2 billion, showing the extent of the problem.

The government ought to urgently ensure all public property has proper ownership documents with every manager handed the crucial papers as soon as they take over office. The handover should include details of the size of the land, how much is in use and in whose name the title deed is.

Every public property should also be properly fenced to ward off squatters and land grabbers and to mark its boundaries.

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