Land in Kenya remains the single most explosive issue. It was a major issue in the quest for independence. The land question has over time been shaped by economic, political, social and legal parameters.
Two years after its launch, many Kenyans are already wishing for the entire system to be overhauled. This is the case with the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) commonly dubbed ArdhiSasa launched in April 2021 by former President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning coupled with the National Land Commission, county governments and other stakeholders developed the National Land Information Management System to address the challenges that were facing the existing system.
These included but were not limited to :
- Loss of records
- Destruction of records
- Manipulation of land records
Under Section 6 of the Land Act (No. 6 of 2012), the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning is mandated to coordinate and manage the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.
They are also required to coordinate the development and implementation of a National Land Information System in collaboration with the Commission.
The Registrar of Lands is obligated under Section 9 of the Land Registration Act to keep the register and other necessary documents in a safe, readable, and trustworthy format, which includes, among other things, electronic files. On the other hand, Section 10 emphasizes, among other things, the public’s ability to access the register via electronic means.
In fulfilment of this role, the Ministry embarked on developing technologies, policies and putting up the necessary resources to promote the sharing of geospatial data throughout government levels, private and non-profit sectors, and the relevant stakeholders.
HOW IT WORKS
Essentially, NLIMS is an information system that enables the capture, management, and analysis of geographically referenced land-related data to produce land information for land administration and management decisions. The system integrates all operations of the Ministry of Lands’ line departments and provides a one-stop-shop where end-to-end transactions in relation to land are conducted.
Currently, the property records available in the system are those registered under the Nairobi Registry. The Ministry intends to update the system to include properties registered at the Central Registry (covering the Government Lands and the Land Titles Registries) and subsequently registries in other counties in Kenya.
It is worth noting that currently, not all types of land records are in the system. The system as structured only identifies properties with geospatial data. Therefore, sectional properties, such as apartments, flats are not in the system. Nevertheless, at the property owner’s request, the properties of this nature can be surveyed and fed into the system.
The system does NOT provide for the following categories of properties: –
- Sectional Properties
- Properties with incomplete data records or where ownership cannot be ascertained, e.g., records that lack documentation showing how the proprietor came to own the property, e.g., letters of allotment or transfers and;
- Properties recognized as public land and captured on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Land (Ndung’u Report) and the Revocation Gazette Notice No. 6862.
- Land administration services- this includes processes such as subdivision, extension of leases, change of user, consents, lease preparation, the extension of user, and renewal of leases;
- Physical planning services- this includes approval of part development plans, plan preparation, and issuance of certificates of compliance;
- Survey and mapping services such as subdivision, amalgamation, new grants, re-survey, surveying of sectional properties, extension of leases, and change of user;
- Valuation services – asset valuation, government leasing, government purchase, estate administration, and arbitration;
- Adjudication & settlement of land
- Land allocation services by the National Land Commission
ISSUES AFFECTING THE PLATFORM
Recently, the platform has faced harsh criticism from stakeholders due to its inefficiency in service delivery. The stakeholders claim that thousands of their transactions have been sitting in the ArdhiSasa system for the past six months, awaiting approvals with no set deadline.
The verification of original certifications submitted based on physical files that have since been stored away from the Ministry of Lands offices in Nairobi to Ruaraka is at the heart of the delay. The main conflict herein is that we are still using physical verification of files on the platform which is digitized. Furthermore, the physical files are no longer at the Ministry of Lands offices. Moreover, the Ardhi Sasa system only covers Nairobi County which disadvantages stakeholders operating in other areas.
All these would have been avoided if the land records were wholly digitized. The digitization of land records was formulated back in 2013 by Charity Ngilu, Former Cabinet Secretary of Lands. It was also done in accordance with Sections 9 and 10 of the Lands Registration Act 2012.
The Law Society of Kenya through its Chairperson Eric Theuri has expressed frustrations with the platform’s efficiency. There have been doubts as to whether the Ministry can even achieve its deadline of June 2023 for digitizing all land records considering that the delays have been ongoing for years. Moreover, most stakeholders doubt the legitimacy of this platform as it has other dire issues such as the incompletion of charging of properties by the banks so they may act as security as per Section 80 of the Lands Act 2012. Numerous titles that were recorded in NAIROBI/BLOCKXX/XXX, have
not yet been uploaded to the system and as a result, cannot be searched for or validated, making it impossible to perform due diligence on such properties. This immediately contradicts Section 29 of the Land Registration Act which provides for every proprietor to have had notice of every entry in the register pertaining to land at the time of acquisition. This is mostly achieved through searches as stipulated in Section 34 of the Land Registration Act.
The land question in Kenya requires a bold and radical departure from past practice which has been deferential to property rights however acquired and neglected the grievances that people have over land. The process is likely to be contested by beneficiaries of the current system
All these issues have prompted the Law Society of Kenya to institute legal action against the Lands Ministry should they fail to digitize the land records from June 2023 and address the various issues affecting the Ardhi Sasa platform.
The Law Society is within the provisions of the Land Act and Land Registration Act of 2012 to institute such legal action.
For More Information Please Contact
Land Act 2012
Land Registration Act 2012