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Land registries closed for 10 days w.e.f. today to set stage for digitisation.

A file photo of the Thika Lands Registry.

Lands Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri on Sunday announced the temporary closure of Nairobi and Central registries to allow it to shift operations online dubbed LIMS (Lands Information Management System).

Through a notice in local dailies, the Ministry stated that the offices would remain closed for 10 working days starting today, Monday 19 to Friday 30th. During this period, all services offered at these registries will not be available at Ardhi House, Nairobi. 

However, all other registries will remain open.

Dr. Muraguri said there will be no more manual processing of documents adding that the closure is aimed at streamlining the registries to ensure efficiency and reduce turnaround time.

The PS said that this will ensure that all the records are scanned and that the data is clean in preparation for online services.

“The ministry is entrusted with facilitating efficient land administration and management whose key objectives are to formulate and coordinate implementation of policies and legal framework for sustainable land management,” he said.

The exercise will begin in Nairobi and will be cascaded to all other registries across the country. This means that the lands records registry and banking hall in Nairobi will remain closed for the 10 days.
Services that will be available online on the e-citizen platform include transfer of ownership, issuance of consent, valuation requests, payment of stamp duty, registration and consent fees.

Registration of land documents, searches, application as well as withdrawal of cautions and restrictions will also be available online.

The closure comes against a backdrop of an audit report released last Wednesday by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that showed unauthorised people were handling sensitive land documents, leading to manipulation.

The ministry has been reeling in wanton fraud as perpetrators take advantage of weak systems and unsecured land registries. Individuals transacting on land have had to physically visit a land office, with each stage requiring paperwork. 

The EACC report that was compiled between September 2016 and February 2017 also revealed that there was a duplication of land records, including title deeds and certificates of lease.

In some registries, interns, casuals and volunteers who were not closely supervised had unlimited access to the registries and other record storage, creating room for alteration and destruction. Such loopholes provided an avenue for filing of illegitimate records, giving cartels a field day.

The EACC report also unearthed instances where sensitive land records were poorly stored, with some piled up on floors, while others were on ceiling boards.

Earlier this month, the Government said that it was working on a block-chain database aimed at weeding out fake title deeds from the land registry.

Known as the single source of truth (SSOT), the database will be the primary reference for all land transactions.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said SSOT would ride on block-chain technology, or a distributed ledger which allows for all transactions to have some kind of ‘public witnesses’. So if you sell land, that change of ownership is underwritten by all the institutions in the system.

In the block-chain technology, the distributed ledger consists of several computers which see and record any transaction that takes place within the network. A distributed ledger is a database that is consensually shared and synchronised across a network spread across multiple sites, institutions or geographies

Mucheru said that the function of the database will be made easier by digitisation of all title deeds.
The SSOT would extend to verifying ownership of any document including birth certificate, driving licence and marriage certificate. It will also come up with centralised procurement of ICT products and services, and create a digital country.

This would go a long way in creating efficiency, transparency and openness which are critical for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda which consist of job creation, food security, universal healthcare and low-cost housing.

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