The Effect of Alienation of Public Utility Land on the Residents of Kisumu Municipality

Land use regulations in developing countries often fail to achieve greater efficiency and equity in the use of urban land  As a result, plans of zoned land uses often bear little or no relation to the people’s needs and wishes and they are in many cases distorted by limited implementation These problems are exacerbated particularly in the face of rapid change by lack of consistent overall policy framework and mechanisms for resolving conflicts between different objectives.

This study examines the effect of alienation of public land in complete disregard of the zonal plans on urban residence of Kisumu Municipality. In this study, public land includes road reserves, riparian reserves, designated open spaces/play grounds and open spaces within residential compounds. The study's objectives were thus:-

(i)        To examine factors which lead to change on the public utility plots

(ii)       To identify sections of the land related statutes, which are in conflict

(iii)      To    identify   possible   solutions   and    policy   recommendations   on   land ownership.

The frequent complaints and objections by Kenyans on public land alienation in the early 90s gave the impetus for the study The alienation included public facilities like government offices, stadiums, road reserves, residential houses etc.

The problem has been studied by identifying the public land which was alienated in the former municipality prior its extension in 1972.

It was found out that the alienation of public land resulted in the access to some private properties being lost or narrowed, open spaces being lost, the riparian reserves which were meant to protect the lake from environmental degradation being allocated and civil servants who were housed by the government being evicted thus forcing the government to house allowance.

Out of the critical assessment of the above issues and findings of the study, recommendations were made. The important conclusions made were:

  1. most of the public land alienated post 1990 are undeveloped
  2. all the public allocations post 1990 were direct allocation by the commissioner

of lands or the president

  1. most of the parcels alienated have been used as collateral despite the fact that they are undeveloped
  2. All the alienated parcels are in arrears to up to ten years as far as rent and rates collection is concerned.
  3. The land statutes do not provide for the repossession of undeveloped land.
  4. The alienation of public land was not well publicized as provided for in the PPA

The study recommended that the allocation of public land should publicized adequately, the powers of the Commissioner of Lands and the President on alienation of land should be transferred to a Permanent Land Commission and the Commission be given powers to reposes land which is undeveloped.