Reform of the lands sector, with the promise of the digitisation of records and streamlining issuance of title deeds, will be a major step in the fight against corruption.
Ardhi House, the headquarters of the Lands ministry, in Nairobi, and lands offices across the country, have for years been in the grip of cartels that have aided and abetted irregular land deals.
Among the beneficiaries are well-connected individuals, groups or organisations of the so-called private developers.
With pressure mounting on the beneficiaries of grabbed land to own up and surrender the plots, a number have already come forward.
Those who do so ease the return of the land to the rightful owners. Others opt to stay put and fight it out in court.
However, where land meant for public utilities and institutions has been grabbed, more illegal ‘owners’ should be encouraged to surrender it.
As the campaign against land grabbing heats up, some beneficiaries have voluntarily handed it back or expressed their willingness to do so, with a few even ready to forego compensation.
Quite encouraging, for example, is the news that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution have handed back to the University of Nairobi its hitherto grabbed land worth Sh2 billion that has been recovered from a private developer who was spared prosecution.
However, the big question is: What is going to be the impact of this on the recovery of other grabbed lands and stolen public properties?
We urge the authorities to come up with a mechanism to encourage more people to emulate this example, but also ensure that such illegal allocations do not occur again.
Where illegal beneficiaries cling onto a property, the law should take its course.