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Professional regulatory bodies need to be revamped for impact



The matter of the Kayole quack doctor who could not be arrested for long provokes a relook at professional regulatory boards in Kenya.

From their legal anchor, these are powerful organs with powers to admit professionals into practice, help identify and flush out quacks, oversee compliance with professional standards and ethics, and even suspend or expel professionals in breach.

But how effectively have they done this? Is the general public even aware of their existence and their roles? Do they have the capacity and resources to deliver on their mandates? Or have these boards turned into laid-back, city-based desk organs not really serving their cardinal roles?

Let’s first look at the land sector, which I have a better feel on.

I wonder how many Kenyans are aware that we have four regulatory statutory bodies charged with the duty of regulating this sector.

The Land Surveyors Board, chaired by the director of surveys, regulates the surveying profession, and is in charge of admitting qualified professionals into practice.

It also oversees the conduct of licensed surveyors and their assistants all over the country.

The board should help crack down on quack surveyors, too.

The chairman of this board currently sits at the Survey Field Headquarters in Ruaraka.

The secretary, usually a public officer, should be there, too.

That’s where members of the public with beef on any surveyors or quacks should take their complaints, or else send them in writing.

The Valuers Registration Board, whose chairman is the government chief valuer, regulates valuation practice in the country.

Concerns on conflicting values of land parcels and appurtenant assets, and the misconduct of registered valuers, are regulated by this statutory organ.

The chief valuer is currently based at Ardhi House.

I suspect that few Kenyans know about it.

There is also an Estate Agents Registration Board, which is charged with the duty of regulating the business of real estate around the country.

It admits and oversees all registered estate agents, never mind that many unregistered people today openly claim to be estate agents.

Unlike the others, this board is chaired by a valuer in private practice but sits in Ardhi House.

Then there is the Planners Registration Board, which regulates the admission and conduct of registered physical planners in Kenya.

It is chaired by the director of physical planning who sits in Ardhi House.

While I chaired the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya, we did an aggressive countywide outreach campaign which took us to the seven provincial capitals of the time.

We took along representatives of the regulatory boards, apart from the planners’ one.

From discussions with the respective provincial and district administrators, leaders and stakeholders, it was instructive that few people knew of the existence, leave alone roles, of the regulatory boards.

There’s hence little hope that they can effectively report on professional malpractice and misconduct in their jurisdictions.

No wonder quacks thrive at regional, county and local levels with easy abandon.

But those visits, which brought the face of these boards to local levels, had some shock and immobilising effect on some quacks for a while.

But currently, there’s minimal impact of the land surveyors, valuers, estate agents and the planners’ registration boards on professional malpractice countrywide.

The above helps to illustrate the seeming regulatory gap that we have around the country for most of the controlled professions.

Be it medical, legal, accounts, supplies and management, insurance, architectural and engineers regulatory boards, we have issues.

Some structural, others are resource related, while many could stem from capacity and leadership gaps.

But we must, however, laud the legal and medical sector boards for occasionally cracking and reporting on misconduct and their interventions to rein in quacks.

But those who read recent lamentations from officials of the medical practitioners’ board on their helplessness in arresting quacks can understand some of the underlying limitations.

They observed that they could not, without the help of the police, venture into some of the hotspots to identify and arrest quacks.

When I served in the land surveyors’ board, for instance, some members raised fears that suave quacks collaborated with gullible public and security officials to outmanoeuvre any planned field raids.