February 17, 2024

Lands Ministry Posts High Revenue Collection Through Cashless Payments

Secretary for administration state department Mohamed Ahmed Maalim addressing the Media in Malindi (Photo BybRaphaelNjyguna)

By Raphael Njunguna

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Cashless payments for lands transaction services has improved revenue collection in the state department for Lands and physical planning, says an official speaking in Malindi on November 22, 2023.

Secretary for administration state department Mohamed Ahmed Maalim says digitalization of land records and automation of revenue collection has being a game-changer in dealing with menace of double land allocations and poor revenue collection.

“In the last four to five months since the introduction of cashless payments, revenue collection has gone up three times more that we used to collect before automation system came being through sealing existing loopholes,” he said.

In order to maximise this, the department intends to spread its wings by targeting Mombasa County as its next station of automation.

He spoke at the Nidhamia Hall in Malindi town during a public participation forum on the proposed Land Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Review of Land Sector Regulations.

The forum was attended by representatives of all the six coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu and Taita Taveta that was facilitated by senior officials from Ministry of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development.

According to Maalim the ministry was gearing towards digitising all government records country-wide in order to make land transactions easier and urged Kenyans to embrace e-citizen services as instructed by President William Ruto.

At the same time, he defended the proposed new land transaction fees saying the current charges had not been reviewed for a long time and could no longer enable the ministry to provide efficient services due to the harsh economic conditions.

“These proposals were not only made by the Ministry of Lands, but were also a product of consultative meetings with various stakeholders.

Those talks resulted into a draft bill and regulations that now require public participation before the proposed laws and regulations are sent to parliament for subsequent debate and assenting by the President.

To reach a wider audience, the state department has posted the proposed laws and regulations on its website for wananchi to read and give feedback before November 26, 3023 for views to be taken into consideration.

“We are aware that the cost of living has gone up, but as a country, we must look for ways of being self-reliant.”

For the squatter problem in the Coast Region, Maalim said the government had set aside Sh1 billion to purchase land from genuine landlords so as to settle the landless.

“The President has said that in the Coast region, which has suffered the squatter menace for eons, he will avail Sh1 billion to buy land from landlords and settle the squatters.”

The secretary says the ministry will formalise the settlement of Kenyans living on government land or on land belonging to absent landlords but after following due diligence and the law.

“Where there are squatters on land genuinely owned by individuals, we will have to negotiate with those individuals so that the government can buy that land to settle its people,” he added.

Echoing the same sentiments, the acting chief land registrar David Nyandoro said the government would look into the rights of both the landless and land owners with a view to come up with amicable solutions.

“It is not the intention of the government for wananchi to be evicted from where they are living because other people have documents. On the same note, it is not the government’s intention to exploit someone with genuine land ownership documents,” he said.

However, he said the ministry would implement the President’s directive to solve the squatter question in the region once and for all.

This is will done through negotiation and formalisation of settlement in accordance with the law.

Bishop Joseph Maisha of Ushindi Baptist Church from Mombasa, speaking on behalf of the stakeholders, praised the government for initiating land reforms that he said would resolve the nagging squatter issue there.

“Even though there is a genuine cry that the cost of living has gone up, we need to cooperate with the government to ensure that this problem that has affected our region is solved once and for all,” the bishop said.

But the participants who spoke during the forum were divided on the proposed land transaction charges with some saying the proposals were fair while others decrying they were punitive and could be counterproductive.

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