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By Jaymo Wa Thika

It hurts so much to see people watch in anguish as their houses are brought down on land owned by East Africa Portland Cement Company (EAPCC).... It's painful and also regrettable.

But who is to blame? The government? Yes The investors? Yes The Court? No EAPCC? No

I blame the government, not for the current demolitions, but because, in 2014, it had the power to stop people from putting up structures in the land since it legally belonged to EAPCC. It simply turned a blind eye as people got duped and sunk billions of shillings into an illegal encroachment knowing so well that they were sitting on borrowed time.

I blame the government because, as ignorant investors suffer great loses, the real culprits of this fraud are walking scot-free and enjoying illegally acquired wealth but the government is doing nothing about it. Who will stop another fraudster from doing the same in future if no action is taken against such crimes? No unless the government is the real fraudster.

I blame the investors for their ignorance (let me not say stupidity).... Ignorance has never and will never be a defense.

In Kenya, a title deed is the ultimate proof of land ownership and legal rights to it. None of them have any. They only have documents issued to them by the fraudulent land investment companies that sold them these plots. Nothing recognisable in law.

Documents dating as far back as 2014 indicate that buyers had been warned against sinking their money into these ill-fated investments. In the month of July 2020, EAPCC in a paid-up newspaper advert, listed several parcels of land in Mavoko sub-county, which it warned the public against buying, stating that it had absolute ownership of the property. 

Despite the warnings, many people went ahead to buy these plots and put up houses. 

Their biggest mistake? They never did any due diligence. 

The first red flag in this project was the price. When the deal is too good.... Think Twice. The cost of buying land there was way too low as compared to the market price of land in that area.

They should have done a historical analysis of the land.... This can be achieved either from buying a deed plan/ or a block title of the land from the Survey of Kenya or through asking several people living around the neighbouring or the chiefs or even involving the services of a lawyer. This might look tedious, time consuming and expensive, but this will save you from the kind of anguish and losses the people at Mavoko are going through now.

So as much as we would want to pass the blame, the buyers are all to blame. I know there might be a lot of peer pressure and carrot dangling but it's your money and investment you are putting to risk. Take your time. If you lose the opportunity to buy such prime land, well, it wasn't meant to be. Your genuine parcel will just come your way.

Next time you go to buy a piece of land, just do some due diligence. Buying property should never be equated to buying a loaf of bread... This is serious investment. Home ownership should always be meant to give you some peace of mind, not to stress you.

Tafakari hayo.

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