Nairobi ‘losing’ billions to land rates defaulters

Benard Gitau @benagitau

A national government geospatial report indicates that 90 per cent of land/property owners in Nairobi do not pay rates, robbing the county billions of shillings.

According to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the geospatial analysis which will be released soon reveals only 150,000 plots/property owners pay rates out of more than 1.5 property million owners.

“We have begun mapping lands across the country from geospatial point of view and results for Nairobi will be out soon,” he said.

Last year, Nairobi City government reported that residents and institutions owed it more than Sh150 billion in unpaid land rates. Parastatals, public institutions residential and commercial property owners are the biggest defaulters.

To entice property/land owners to pay the arrears, the county has given them 100 percent waivers on rates.

Speaking after receiving the World Bank’s 2019 ‘Doing Business’ report last week, which ranked Kenya position 61 out of 190, Uhuru urged county governments to clean their land registry to increase revenue collection.

“If only few people pay their duties, how then will we deliver water, build roads and offer services which demands cut across the entire population?” he posed. He indicated that if taxes will go down, all eligible taxpayers must honour their obligation to ease the burden from the few who comply.

Geospatial analysis is the gathering, display, and manipulation of imagery, GPS, satellite photography and historical data, described explicitly in terms of geographic coordinates or implicitly.

The exercise is conducted in relation to street address, postal code, or forest stand identifier as they are applied to geographic models. 

In 2017, the national government launched its first National Spatial Plan (NSP) to guide the use and management of land and land-based resources  to achieve equity, productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

The document was aimed at addressing key developmental challenges the country is grappling with while recognising the abundant and diverse resource endowment.

The NSP recommended strategies to enhance economic niche and mitigate negative impacts.  Among the challenges addressed therein are regional imbalances, unguided urbanisation, massive land fragmentation and diminishing agricultural land, encroachment of fragile ecosystems and untapped and underutilised resourses.

Kenya is experiencing rapid urbanisation and that by the year 2030, it is projected that 50 per cent of the country’s population will be residing in urban areas.

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