West Pokot county government has received land registry equipment costing Ksh 14.8 million that will enable the people of West Pokot to promptly access land services in Kapenguria.
Thousands of residents from the county have been enduring long journeys all the way to Kitale or Eldoret to process land title deeds costing them their time and money.
The equipment was funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Food and Aagriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the ministry of lands, national land commission and the West Pokot county government.
During the handing over ceremony that was held at the county lands offices in Kapenguria the Chief Administrative Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning Alex Muiru said only 16% of the total land in West Pokot county is registered and the unveiling of the registry equipment will increase the percentage.
He noted that most of the land in the county is community land hence cautioned locals against sub dividing the land and selling it without considering the future generation.
“It is not good to subdivide the land because you might even lack land to herd your animals, a number of steps have to be followed before the subdivision is done which include the approvals on what you want to do with the land.” He said.
He warned county land officials against surveying and adjudicating land at night which has resulted in wrangles among the community members.
The area governor John Lonyangapuo was shocked at the rate at which locals are losing parcels of land through dubious means by depositing land titles in exchange of soft loans.
He noted that it’s been a trend within West Pokot County where locals have lost title deeds due to mounting medical bills that push them to deposit land documents as collateral to save the lives of the sick.
“We have been left behind for so many years because of cattle rustling and insecurity but we need help now, land is a sensitive matter that has cost people lives, people have been duped by depositing their title deeds and end up not getting them back.” He said.
Lonyangapuo noted that people are even selling land without even processing the title deeds which is a worrying trend among locals.
“People should stop selling land anyhow; they should reserve their land for over 400 years so that the next generation can have a place to call home.” He said.
He added that the modern equipment is first of its kind assuring locals that their title deeds will now be safe and secured.
“People are selling land thinking that they are going to die tomorrow, it’s so disgusting in polygamous families where brothers decide to sell their huge parcel of land until they become squatters.” He said.
He warned locals against grabbing public land citing that those who will be found culpable should be investigated and the land repossessed.
West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello noted that his office as Ministry of Interior will enlighten assistant chiefs on participating in land issues and to help locals to know their rights.
“So many titles are being processed for group ranches; you will receive many visitors who want to buy land at a cheaper price, kindly don’t sell your land at a throw away price work hard to settle your loans but don’t allow your land to be taken by the lenders.” He said.
Leah Chepokingi among the women who fight for women rights in the county thanked the organizations for bringing such equipment to the county hence urged men to allow women own their parcel of land.
“Pokot cultural beliefs inhibit Pokot women from owning land but it will now be a relief for women to register their land,” she said.
EU Representative Titus Katembu said the European Union has used more than Ksh 1.2 billion in eleven counties across the country in land governance programs as part of the Big Four Agenda.
“To achieve this, the programme supported procurement of new land registry equipment and refurbished existing land registries in the country. The immediate milestones achieved for equipping the land registry include the completion of the community land registration process which has enabled the registry to produce the county’s first ever community title deeds for Chesra, Sobukwo, Nakwijit and Chemwochoi communities.” He said.