Beware Of Fake Title Deeds Diasporans!!!

Posted on May 10, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

By Joe Kiarie the standard

Over the past six years, the Government has spent a lot of resources wooing Kenyans in the Diaspora to invest back home.

And the move has borne fruits. Money transfers from the Diaspora now stand at Sh78 billion, an amount that has shot up from about Sh59 billion in 2005.

Contributions from Diaspora, according to the World Bank, are the leading source of foreign exchange surpassing horticulture and tourism industries.

But, not all Kenyans abroad are contented with what is happening to their investments back home. At the moment, some are in ownership tussles with the Government.

In Kiambu West District, about seven such investors could lose over Sh150million they have invested in residential houses.

And they are blaming the Government for their plight. They claim corrupt Ministry of Lands officials colluded with agents to sell them public land.

Posh flats

The investors, who are either studying or working in the US and Britain, bought land at Ruaka shopping centre through agents about nine years ago. They were issued with title deeds approved by the district lands registrar. They went on to invest millions of shillings in posh residential flats.

But things turned nasty late last year when surveyors from the Ministry of Public Works informed them that their houses were resting on land that had been earmarked for a link road that will join Limuru Road with the northern by-pass.

The ministry later issued a notice directing them to pull down the houses.

They want the ministry to take blame for the saga and rescind the decision to evict them. The ministry has refused. They fear their investments will go down the drain.

They even petitioned President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya to honour their word and save them from losing their hard-earned cash in vain.

invest at home

“The three have been coming to the US to persuade us to invest back home. They assured us that all our investments will be protected and guarded as much as they safeguard that of any other foreign investor,” says Steve Mwangi, a 30 year-old nurse working in the US. His house worth Sh15 million is among those earmarked for demolition.

It stands next to that of Steve Kibunga, a 34-year-old nurse also living in the US.

Mwangi says they feel betrayed because they followed procedure in buying land – identifying suitable plot, registering and acquiring a title deed. He wonders why the Government is dilly dallying in handling an issue likely to undermine investor confidence.

“It is unfortunate that top Government officials traverse the world seeking investors, but cannot listen to us once we have put the money back home. Are there no laws that protect us?” asks Phillip Gitonga, another affected Kenyan living in the US.

“Government officials should be held responsible and accountable if they knowingly misled us into buying property,” he says.

Mr James Kimani, a truck driver in the US, says he spent a fortune to construct a flat on a piece of land he legally acquired 10 years ago.

And with the flat also earmarked for demolition, Kimani has vowed to stay in Kenya until justice is done.

He says he used his house as security to get Sh5 million loan from a local bank.

But once it was revealed that the title deed had double ownership, the bank asked him to withdraw the title deed and he surrendered another house.

“This is the last thing I could have imagined happening to me. I wish the Government knew the sacrifice Kenyans make to make money out there,” he says.

The Ministry of Roads is, however, adamant there will be no recourse for the owners if the houses are on public land.

Fake title deeds

“We have surveyors at the ministry and those aggrieved should consult them to find whether the houses are on public land. If they are on public land, then the owners have no option but to vacate.

“If it is not public land, then they will be let to continue with their projects,” says Mr Korir Cheruiyot, a public relations officer at the ministry.

The saga follows Government warnings that a cartel has been operating from the Ministry of Lands headquarters at Ardhi House.

Lands Minister James Orengo recently said several senior staffers in the ministry are being investigated for allegedly taking part in the issuance of fake land title deeds, which could have been used to defraud an unsuspecting public of millions of shillings.

Orengo said hundreds of fake title deeds and land documents are being held as genuine documents.

He cited the Central Registry at Ardhi House, Eldoret, Thika, Kisumu, Kitale, Nyahururu, Nanyuki, Nakuru and Kwale registries as the most affected by the racket.

To illustrate the problem, Orengo narrated how a private developer, waving a title deed laid claim to land on which the ministry wanted to build a new lands office in Eldoret.

Orengo warned a crackdown on “land criminals and career fraudsters” is under way countrywide, saying a probe has been launched on officers suspected to be part of the scheme.


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