By Eastern Newspaper Correspondent
A large section of Meru County residents is staring at a potential loss of their undeveloped plots in urban areas.
Governor Kiraitu Murungi who received the Meru County Land Banking Report from the 9-member County Public Land Committee chaired by lawyer Rodgers Ruthugua said when the plots were allotted to owners it was under an agreement they will be developed.
“We may take away such (undeveloped) plots after the beneficiaries failed to develop them as required during allotment,” said Governor Kiraitu who was flanked by Land Executive Jeremiah Lenya and other senior government officials.
“Some of those hoarding the commercial plots are just holding papers to the idle bush,” Kiraitu said after receiving a report from a nine-member committee that investigated the status of public land in the county. Kiraitu regretted that there was a section of landowners who were hoarding it, intending to make a financial killing in the future through land sales.
The county boss said it was undeveloped and was being passed on from one generation to another without any development, thus beating the purpose of the county government to ensure the development was taking place on the parcels.
Mr. Ruthugua’s team recommended that the county administration should repossess all undeveloped plots in urban areas where beneficiaries have failed to adhere by the provision to develop them when they took the parcels in their possession.
The team also reported massive grabbing of public land, including a 2,000-acre farm at Marania and a Miraa farm in Meru North.
“Up to 230 parcels of land measuring 638 hectares have been confirmed to be unavailable for public use because of land grabbing, subdivision, and actual transfer to individual owners,” Mr. Ruthugua’s team noted.
Kiraitu warned land grabbers saying he will not sit and watch as the public is robbed.
“I declared war on public land grabbing and committed that we shall study the report and implement the recommendations to build our great county,” Kiraitu said.
The team said 60 percent of the land in Meru remained unregistered and called for continuous updates of the land inventory to check grabbing.
Ruthugua’s team told the Kiraitu administration to ensure enough land is allocated for public use.
Kiraitu promised to institute an Ethiopian public land allotment model where beneficiaries who fail to develop their plots lose them after three years, in a move that is bound to elicit opposition from the owners and other interest groups.
“We need to lure public investors into this area and the main motivating factor will be the availability of land,” said Kiraitu.