Why surveyors want breaks slammed on Land Value Index

Say it violates right for landowners to get quick compensation once property if acquired compulsorily

In Summary

Surveyors said there is no way landowner can wait for one year to get compensated after their land has been compulsorily acquired by the government for projects

ISK CEO Rose Mwaura, ISK President Abraham Samoei and Chair, Finance and Audit Co'mmitee Isaiah Oyuga.
ISK CEO Rose Mwaura, ISK President Abraham Samoei and Chair, Finance and Audit Co'mmitee Isaiah Oyuga.

The newly enacted Land Value Index will condemn property owners to abject poverty, surveyors have said.

The Institute of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) on Thursday urged Lands CS Farida Karoney to put breaks on its implementation, saying it does not serve the purposes it was intended to.

"The Land Value Index is good for our country. However, it will infringe on Article 40 of the Constitution which stipulates prompt payment in full for any property compulsorily acquired," ISK president Abraham Samoei said.

He said there is no way landowners can wait for one year to get compensated after their property has been compulsorily acquired by the government for projects.

President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Land Value amendment Act, 2019, last month.

The Act provides for the assessment of the land value index with respect to compulsory acquisition. 

Previously, cartels used to buy huge tracts of land before speculating on it when they get wind that government could soon acquire it for projects. This has pushed up the cost of compensation.

CS Karoney has six months to develop the index in consultation with county governments. It will need to be approved by the National Assembly and the Senate.

"This is impracticable based on the fact that land markets operate on forces of demand and supply. It is not possible to subject the same to legislative controls," Samoei said.

Samoei addressed the press at his ISK offices in Reinsurance Plaza flanked by CEO Rose Mwaura, finance and audit committee chair Isaiah Oyuga among other officials.

He said compensation can only be based on the market value of the land while land index should only act as a guide to interpret the trends in property pricing over prescribed two year period.

Samoei questioned the motive behind a section in the Act that allows the National Land Commission to take possession of the land before payment of compensation.

"The acquisition deprives the owner the benefit of using the land. More so, government projects are budgeted for and so should compensation for the affected persons," he said. 

The Institute also took issue with the composition of the tribunal that hears complaints from landowners.  

Samoei said the tribunal should comprise of professionals in the land sector such as valuers.  

"The current tribunal only has representation from the Attorney General, the Judicial Service Commission and the CS which will not help in arbitrating matters that arises from compensation," he said.

Samoei said index changes with time and there should be a regular update. He said professionals in the land sector must be involved.

The ISK president said community land act that provides for registration of community land is yet to be implemented. This means there will be no indexes for community land.

Samoei said all stakeholders must know the trends as it happens in the land sector.

"When the index is regularly updated, it becomes fairly easy for the government to determine compensation because a spike will be noted," he said.