Authorities are being urged to marshal a spirited fight against corruption in the lands sector. Recent findings by the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) show there is an increase in land-related graft.
Speaking during the release of a report on the status of Land Governance in Kenya, LDGI Executive Director Mwenda Makathimo noted that enormous service-level bribery is prevalent in government bodies which oversee the land sector and that this is a major concern to the public.
Makathimo says a research carried out by LDGI reveals this state of affairs, highlighting loopholes in the management of land in the country. Corruption ranks high amongst issues considered most pertinent by Kenyans, and which requires action.
“51% of the respondents still found that corruption is rife in land transactions and rated it as high, 49 % of the respondents rated corruption as low” The LDGI report shows
According to Makathimo the latest figures imply that the incidences of corruption are still high and that this calls for swift stringent action in a bid to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
“More measures to enhance integrity of officers are necessary highly m include corruption, accessibility and awareness of the ongoing reforms in the lands sector.” He said
In the survey, the Institute further established that majority of the members of the public still view the Land Control Boards with a lot of suspicion. The concern emanates from realization that bad practice is still the order of the day in the boards.
“Respondents cited high corruption in the Boards, nepotism and favoritism, unmotivated members, and gender imbalance in composition of the Boards.” the report notes.
Yet, the incidences of Corruption do not end here. The reports shows that 36% of Kenyans are of the view that corruption is rife in the courts. The institute concluded that corruption is still significant in the courts, and that a lot needs to be done to eliminate it.
The speed with which court processes or judgment re being delivered is yet another worry.
“Majority of the respondents were dissatisfied with the time taken by the Land and Environment Court to make judgment. 59% of respondents rated the process slow, 22% rated it as fair: 19% rated it as timely,” Makathimo remarked
The Institute is, however, upbeat that the ongoing digitization of land registries will streamline management practices and significantly diminish graft in the area of land.
“The Institute supports and lauds government efforts in developing an online Land Information Management System to enhance efficiency and reduce costs of transacting on land” Ibrahim Mwathane, the LDGI Chair said
Mwathane noted that user feedback should be used to improve the system incrementally.
He said the new online system dubbed “ARDHISASA” will make it possible to pose real time queries on property ownership to the system.
“Ardhisasa fits into our wider policy and legal contexts, which require that Kenya establishes a modern land information management system, to make it possible to transact on electronic records, an amendment of the statutes governing the submission and processing of land records, and the payment of land revenues,” He said
The reforms notwithstanding, LDGI asserts that tackling corruption in the administration and processes of land management remains critical.