The Ministry of Lands has agreed to partially reopen land registries across the country after nearly two months of inactivity to keep COVID-19 at bay.

In a public notice to published yesterday, the ministry outlined a list of services that will be offered at the customer care centres of registries countrywide. These include registration of bank charges, registration of bank discharges, registration of court orders and verification of sureties.

Closure of the registries has been the subject of disputes with lawyers and other stakeholders since the initial announcement to close the registries in February. Lawyers had successfully taken the matter to court, securing a reversal of the decision.

However, the ministry later had its way following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The decision has set the ministry at odds with ordinary Kenyans across the country in need of essential services.

Many Kenyans use land as security for securing financial assistance or through sale to raise significant amounts of funding required in emergency situations like school fees, hospital bill payments, court bails, and bank loans.

The closure of the registries had therefore immobilized resources for hundreds across the country since the registries are central to all land transactions including valuations, registration of titles, sub-divisions et cetera.

The Law Society of Kenya recently petitioned the ministry to work out a sustainable arrangement to ensure the continuation of services.

“The ministry has failed to recognize that land is not just property, but a means of generating capital. Closure of lands registries for over two months has caused unprecedented difficulties to the owners of the capital,” said Eric Theuri, a lawyer.

Land surveyors, developers, real estate agents and lawyers are among some of the professionals who have had their operations disrupted as a result of the closure to the registries.

“The continued closure of land offices is killing our livelihood because operations have been grounded,” Joe Wagura, a director at Pixol Arc Limited Lands Surveyors told the Nation.

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