- Section 44 allows the county to charge title deeds for the land rates in debt through the registrar of lands
- The landowners have since initiated a petition and appended their signatures in protest of the Act
Landowners in Kiambu county are planning to hold demonstrations against plans by the county government to charge them land rates.
The freehold landowners are planning to hold the demonstrations next week on Valentine's Day.
They will be joined by MPs, the clergy and other county leaders, who have urged the county government to repeal a law that paved way for the charges.
The Kiambu County Valuation and Rating Act, passed in 2016, says all freehold land in Kiambu is ratable.
Section 14 the Act gives the county government authority to enter any private land for valuation.
Any attempts to prevent this attracts a fine of Sh 150,000 or six months imprisonment.
Micheal Kibunyi a resident of Miharati Villa in Kiambaa subcounty said he was shocked when county officers stopped him from building a house in his less than a quarter acre freehold land, until he paid rates.
He said he was given a bill of more than Sh53,000 as land rates inclusive of penalties accrued since 2016 when the Act was put in force.
According to the Act, land rates attract a three per cent penalty every month.
Section 44 allows the county to charge title deeds for the land rates in debt through the registrar of lands.
The landowners have since initiated a petition and appended their signatures in protest of the Act.
The petition was drafted by Bunge Mashinani, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for democracy and human rights.
Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba and her Kiambaa colleague, John Wanjiku, want the law to be removed completely.
The two MPs said it is unconstitutional and will hurt Kiambu residents.
Susan Mburaria, a resident, said they cannot afford to pay rates for lands they fought for during independence.
Jane Njeri, a resident of Githunguri subcounty, said they have buried their loved ones on the lands.
Section 45 of the Act gives Finance executive powers to sell land through auction or a private treaty if one fails to pay land rates.
The Act says all lands in Kiambu are ratable except for public schools, toilets, markets, hospitals and roads.
The law says a land owner is required to pay all land rates from 2016 if they want to sell, subdivide, develop or lease their land.
Bunge Mashinani clerk Michael Mburu said the Act was passed without public participation.
While reacting to the issue, Governor Kimani Wamatangi said his administration found the law in place.
He said he has asked members of the county assembly to review it once they resume sittings.
Wamatangi said he has also put a waiver on penalties accrued from the land rates.
The waiver has been advertised on local dailies and electronic media.
“This is to notify the general public and specifically land/plot owners in Kiambu county who have defaulted in timely payment of land rates, that the county government of Kiambu has waived 100% interest/penalties that had accrued on unpaid rates," the advertisement reads.
"To qualify and enjoy the waiver land/plot owners must clear the unpaid principal land rates amount within the waiver period.”