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House team protest critical changes to Bill

Wednesday, June 5th, 2024 04:08 | By
Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gitari during a past House committee meeting. PHOTO/Print
Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gitari during a past House committee meeting. PHOTO/Print

Cartels in the land buying sector are on the spot after a bill seeking to streamline the sector was mutilated at parliament’s legal department.

A committee meeting was yesterday postponed at the last minute after it emerged that critical amendments had been deleted or altered in the final document with fingers pointing at land cartels.

The sponsor of the Bill, Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gitari protested that at least 25 per cent of the Bill’s content had been deleted.

Key among them is the section seeking to compel buying companies to deposit Sh500 million as licence fees before they are cleared for registration.

“The Bill aims to ensure that all entities dealing in land are regulated and set a minimum fee for registration of land dealing entities and impose penalties for non-compliance, sadly this section has been left out by those tasked to make the final draft, I seek you indulgence Mr chairman,” said Gitari.

Gitari said he had initiated a legislative process to weed out fake land-buying companies. He said there was a need to enhance the existing legal mechanisms to rescue Kenyans from rogue middlemen involved in fake land dealings whose operations have left many families destitute and thousands of hardworking Kenyans in misery as culprits go scot-free.

Lands Committee chairman Joash Nyamoko ruled that debate on the Land (Amendment) Bill, 2024 would not proceed until the Director of Legal Services in the National Assembly explains why changes had been made to the bill.

“This is unacceptable, how can this happen? I direct that the committee calls off any business with the proposed legislation until after the person involved in the drafting explains the changes,” ruled Nyamoko.

Gitari said when the bill was published, he noticed that some of the proposals he had made in the draft had been altered. After protesting to the legal services, he was promised they would be rectified only to have the final document bearing the same mistakes,” Gitari said.

“The Bill provides for payment of a registration fee by each land dealing company which will be prescribed by the Cabinet Secretary responsible for Land and renewed every year.”

If passed the proposed law will help the government net millions of shillings annually from land-buying or selling companies to protect investors from fraud.

The bill seeks to amend the Land Act, of 2012 to provide for registration, licensing, and regulation of land dealings entities in order to protect the interest of persons buying land from such companies. 

It aims to ensure that all entities dealing in land are regulated set a minimum licensing fee for registration of land dealing entities and impose penalties for non-compliance.

Registrar powers

Gitari also seeks to have the Chief Land registrar mandated to maintain a register of all land dealing entities and define their operations.

The MP wants the law amended to give the Registrar powers to reject the registration of a land-buying company. Apart from the cancellation of a certificate, the bill will also provide the grounds for action and notification for the same.

The Bill provides for penalties for offenses committed and also offers the powers of the Cabinet Secretary to make regulations on land dealing entities.

The National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) has since approved the bill and called for its fast-tracking to regulate the activities of more than 105 land dealing entities to protect the interest of persons buying land from such companies.

Currently, there is no law that regulates the activities of land-buying companies that have seen investors lose billions of shillings to shadowy entities.

Registrar powers

Several investors have been duped by land-buying companies and unscrupulous professionals like lawyers, land surveyors, and land valuers into buying non-existent parcels of land due to a lack of sufficient laws to regulate land-buying entities.

“We need a law that regulates these land-buying companies who use celebrities in the media and in particular vernacular stations to advertise non-existent land,” Gitari said.

He continued, “No legislation or policy regulates the operations of the land dealing companies. This has left innocent Kenyans at the mercy of fraudulent land-buying and selling companies to con them off their money.”

According to Gitari, the sector had been encroached on by the so-called briefcase companies who capitalise of lack of necessary legislation.

He said investigative agencies have been finding it tough to resolve complaints against the companies in absence of proper regulation mechanisms.

The MP said the establishment of a registration and regulation mechanism for land-dealing entities will go a long way in providing policies that will protect Kenyans from exploitation by fraudulent land-buying and selling companies.

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