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Govt assures foreign investors over land ownership

01 October 2014, 07:59

Nairobi - The government on Tuesday assured foreign investors that the law will protect their land interests in the country.

In a meeting with members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Lands, Urban Housing and Urban Development Charity Ngilu promised to safeguard the interests of investors with regard to land.

"We are going through some changes and will work on amendments to the laws which are inconsistent with the Constitution," Ngilu said.

She said the laws were passed in a hurry because there was a deadline, "but we have now put a team together to do these amendments and assured foreign investors in the country that Article 65 of the Constitution will not impact negatively on their land ownership once their leases run out."

There had been concern by the investors on the stipulation that non citizens, including companies not fully owned by Kenyan citizens, can only hold land leases with tenure of 99 years.

The investors have also expressed concern about whether these parcels of land qualify for automatic renewal after expiry.

Section 13 of the Land Act 2012 states that upon expiry of the lease, land shall be offered to the immediate past holder if the land is not required by the national or county government.

However, Ngilu said land should not be held for speculation purposes and would only be repossessed if it was not being put to use.

She also clarified that the Chief Land Registrar will now sign leases and that the County government cannot register titles, adding that the ministry had developed an automated system of printing leases and they are currently keying them in into the system and verifying their authenticity.

About 17,000 leases are pending and should be done within the next three months.

Companies that have done subdivisions and developed properties that they now want to dispose will soon be able to do this as the process is almost complete.

Also read: Ngilu announces recoveries in Lamu audit

The manufacturers also asked the government to look into the system of paying land rates as they are not able to get confirmations of payment and also to look into the problem of zoning as there were difficulties.

"Conflict is arising from a lack of respect of zoning and there are many invasions of land originally set aside for manufacturing purposes," said Betty Maina, the CEO of KAM calling for a solution that would not force evictions.

Ngilu said there was need for the ministry to identify and designate land which can be used for manufacturing and other important sectors in order to be in a position to advise government at all levels.

 - Xinhua

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