People Daily

Sonko closure of City Lands office cripples services

Lillian Mutavi @PeopleDailyKe

Operations at the lands and Rates department at City Hall are at a standstill after Governor Mike Sonko closed the offices six months ago. In October, the governor ordered 200 top staff to be sent on compulsory leave to allow investigation and locked down the lands, rates, legal, debt collection and urban planning offices.

The move has also led to the delay in answering audit queries raised by Auditor General over cases involving grabbing public lands as the records are locked up. The Nairobi Assembly Public Accounts Committee led by chairman Wilfred Odalo heard that several parcels of land had been transferred to private developers but the documents of the transaction could not be availed because of the closure.

The acting chief officer planning at the Nairobi County Government Cecilia Koigu appearing before the committee said she was yet to occupy the office as it’s locked. “I was given an appointment letter to head the department but I cannot access my office or documents as it is locked since October hence the documents that I have are just survey maps,” said Koigu.

She added that the former chief officer has never handed over to her months after they left office. Among the lands in question included the encroachment on the Komarock Ward offices where the Auditor General said the land has been taken over by private developer.

In her defence, Koigu said the land was surrendered to the National Land Commission (NLC) who allocated it to a private developer. “The land belonged to the defunct Nairobi City Council and was surrendered to NLC but was later subdivided to a private developer, we cannot get the documentation to the effect as the offices are locked,” said Koigu.

She also admitted that the land does not exist and the ward representative is housed in a private property. Koigu confirmed that someone was also paying land rate for the lands that was previously owned by the county.

This led to an outrage led by the Karen MCA David Mberia who informed the committee that during the defunct council,all councilors had offices at the ward level are lying on county owned land.

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