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Tension at Kisumu Lands office as cartels resist changes – Weekly Citizen



Kisumu Lands office that has over the years been on the spot light for the wrong reasons is back in the news as the notorious branch smarts itself from the previous rot.

The new Lands Cabinet Secretary Zacharia Mwangi has been petition to pay attention to the shocking happenings at the regional office jammed with corrupt staff.

Cases of bribery, conning and running away with parcels of land belonging to the widows and orphans were the order of the day at the Kisumu Ardhi House.

Land cartels working in cahoots with government officials at the lands office made life difficult for Kenyans, but gradually, the situation is normalizing.

A walk into the lands office, situated behind Sarova Imperial hotel, one would think it’s a car bazaar.

Vehicles belonging to most of these cartels lines up at the outside car park, here, land deals are struck inside these vehicles, they lure unsuspecting Kenyans who have arrived to seek services at the lands office.

The cartels even arrange for wives to husbands to appear at the lands board, they fake IDs, marriage certificates and other vital documents required for land transactions.

“They will call those coming into our offices, mostly old women and men, convince them that they’re capable to fast track their land deals,” said a clerk at the lands office, who sought to remain anonymous.

A citizen’s charter at the lands office stipulates the duration and cost where applicable on each and every service offered.

However, the cartels promises to offer these services that takes between one to two weeks to be done within two hours.

The promises and sometimes delivered while working in cahoots with some corrupt lands officers makes these cartels to be genuine and attracts more customers, whom are sometimes robbed of their land during such interactions.

“I can say majority of the lands officials are good, minority are bad, they work closely with these cartels to swindle the public their hard earned cash, sometimes losing hectares of their parcels in the process,” the source said.

However, all these are diminishing day by day as reforms in the office starts to take effect.

A major overhaul was carried out, shifting staff in the departments to cut the cartels links in the office.

“We have staff here who have refused to take leave for up to three years now, they work with these cartels and the reorganization of the office has messed them up,” the source continues.

Officers in the lands office who spoke to Citizen but will remain anonymous since they’re not allowed to speak to the media said they’re ready to bring the good name back to the Kisumu Lands office.

The lands office has been viewed as a corruption den, a slaughter house and an office that has been overruned by land cartels.

In the past, you walk into office holding bay and you think you’re in a market. All that is changing as the public are told to follow the citizens charter.

“We strictly follow the charter when discharging our duties. No jumping of queues, no short cuts, everyone is equal here,” said an officer.

The public turning up at the offices have recognized some changes, seeing some order in the office.

“I was surprised this week when I walk into the hall, things moved fast and my land search certificate came pretty fast, I noticed something,” said a retired teacher James Waongo.

Waongo, like other Kenyans, will henceforth enjoy good services, thanks to the reforms initiated at the lands office which was once riddled with cases of corruption.

“A search certificate could come as early as within a day, or late as one month, while the charter talks about between one to two weeks, without any payments,” said Waongo.

He said there is need to carry out sensitization among the public on the do’s and don’t’s while at the lands office.

Police in the past were arresting land cartels nearly on a weekly basis but that didn’t deter the under dealings until the reforms were carried out in the office.

“When these reforms were rolled out, suddenly things started picking up and it came clear to us that some of our officers were behind these cartels,” the source said.

It’s at the lands office where boda boda riders picking passengers by the gate calls themselves land officers, conning and defrauding Kenyans of their land.

“It’s very funny that even subordinate staff at the office masquerade as clerks, picking coins from those who turned up for services so that what they want can be hastened,” added the source.

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