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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 10 May 2015

Brokers return to Ardhi House

Bad old ways have returned to ministry of Lands headquarters barely a month after the stepping aside of the Lands minister Charity Ngilu. According to visitors at Ardhi House brokers are once again having a field day. And as if to compensate for the year or so that they had been consigned to the cold by Ngilu’s iron fist, they are said to be more vicious than ever.
A spot check established that the cartels that were gasping for air merely a month ago following the Ngilu rules that had choked them are now alive and kicking with the anvelop-bearing brokers in full charge.
The fear among Kenyans is that the chaos in which the cartels at Lands ministry thrived will now again become second nature at Ardhi much to the detriment of service seekers. Workers at Ardhi who had welcomed the order Ngilu brought said the open-door policy introduced by Ngilu is now in danger as ruthless brokers rule.
As a pointer that ministry of Lands is in reverse gear, a worker said that revenue collection has now drastically reduced and if not checked will be in the all time low. During Ngilu’s tenure, revenue for a month equaled what was collected annually in previous years. What is alarming however is how fast Ngilu’s reforms have been rolled back in such a brief interlude.
When she was in charge, Ardhi House would process over 1600 title deeds a day but workers say today less than 500 are processed a day as workers report at 10am and leave at 3pm. On the fourth floor where preparation and documentation of files is done, the registrar is said to report at the time he wants. At the crucial banking hall, there is no supervision any more and lawlessness abounds making the place resemble Marigiti. For the whole of last week, computer systems had broken down and no work was done. The much publicised titling centre at Survey is no longer functional, it has emerged. As for search for titles which only a month ago took one day,  it now takes a week according workers unhappy with the new disorder. Sources say principal secretary Mariam El Maawy is slowing the process as she evidently overwhelmed.
According to those in the know, the National Lands Commission officials are now fully in charge of the running of Lands ministry and their main agenda seems only to grab land for themselves and to aid a wing in government with links in William Ruto’s United Republican Party to steal land. The NLC has reportedly taken over all the functions of the ministry with El Maawy seen as too weak given that she is not sure of her position that has been advertised.
Because NLC had all along been opposed to Ngilu’s digitalisation of title deeds registry, it is feared that the process is now slowly being undermined with a view to destroying the digital registers. During her stint at Lands, Ngilu issued over 3.5million new title deeds but with NLC not happy with the issuance, there are fears that some people are now working day and might to cancel the titles and issue them to the moneyed.
By the time she stepped aside, Ngilu had overseen the award of tenders for uploading the lands registry files on the internet so that the name of the owner, their history and even the status in relation to loans is available at the click of a button from any corner of the world. Phase one of the electronic registration programme will include Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Meru, Mombasa, Eldoret, Embu and Thika.

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