Investors and interested parties are uneasy over the recent move by the Ministry of Lands to scale down ministry operations. The investors are alarmed that the move may create a window of fraud and compromise within the registry.
Lands CS Faridah Karoney on March 17th announced the move to scale down operations in the ministry following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) had earlier petitioned the ministry in court over an announcement to close down the registry, saying the move had the potential to compromise transactions worth billions of shilling due to lack of transparency.
As a result, the court ordered the ministry to halt the planned closure of the registries for digitization purposes.
Among the major fears expressed by the lawyers include loss or misplacement of records in the process of digitization, delays in completion of ongoing transactions and penalties on delayed payments.
Furthermore, the lawyers said the closure would lead to a breach in contract in cases where contracts are time-bound.
The lands ministry has in the past been accused of corrupt practices within the registry including missing files hidden for gain, alteration of individual details and duplication of records for individual parcels of land.
Current LSK Chairman Nelson Havi who visited the registry said they want the Cabinet Secretary to open the registry to permit the continuity of critical transactions without exposing officials to the risk of coronavirus infections. The order on March 17 led to the closure of the ministry’s banking hall to the public.
“We want to support the government in a process that will ease services to Kenyans. We, therefore, asked for a small meeting with officials of the ministry to allow stakeholders to evaluate and review the status so far”.