By Victoria Magar
Bungoma County was among the counties in the nation that held a stakeholder workshop in regards to the National land value index for Bungoma county. The exercise has been running for two years, where the Ministry of land officials go around the counties gathering information on the ground about the land value Index.
The workshop started at a high note with opening remarks from The Deputy County Commissioner at the National government Administration Mr.Duncan Okwach, thereafter Mr. Abel Ateka, Land Management Coordinator in Bungoma county, welcomed all the stakeholders in Bungoma County for an interactive session which indeed was educative to Land stakeholders in Bungoma County.
The audience got to understand the meaning of the Land Value Index (LVI) which is defined in section 107(3) as an analytical representation showing the spatial distribution of land values in a given geographical area at a specific time. Preparation of the Land Value Index takes into consideration the declared value of land for the purpose of stamp duty, rates, and land rent for leasehold land.
It was during this workshop where the stakeholders got to understand that Land can only appreciate and cannot depreciate. Any increase in the value of the land occasioned by the intended use or development of the land to be acquired or if at the time of publication of the intention to acquire is likely to accrue from intended use should be ignored.
Many Land stakeholders in Bungoma county are not aware of the benefits of the Land Value Index. Some of the key benefits highlighted during the workshop were: Land Value Index establishes a national database of land values that can be accessed with ease, it also aids National Government and County Government in budget processes involving real estate and ensures predictability while undertaking programs and projects.
Moreover, Land Value Index is of benefit to families and courts during the distribution of assets and liabilities of their kin who died. It was at this forum the attendees got to understand LVI as of importance to lenders where it guides financial and non-financial lenders who use the land as a basis of their lending.
Bungoma recently has been experiencing cases of Land ownership, we have many investors who are willing to invest their money in Kenya, but the aspect of land cases has been a hindrance hence losing the investors to our neighbouring countries. However, the stakeholders remained positive because of the introduction of digitisation in the Ministry of land, this will improve in making investment decisions.
The Stakeholders were educated on different ways of acquiring land. Public bodies, either National, Parastatals can get land by private treat, they can purchase it through negotiation, Compulsory acquisition, hold an inquiry then valuation is done and they can be issued the piece of land. The landowner can accept or reject, if he rejects he can go to tribunal to state the reasons for rejecting it. Another scenario where one can lose his piece of land and be acquired by someone is where one uses it in an unproductive way like planting bhang.
It was noted that some of the surveyors in Bungoma are fake and they end up being used in land acquisition, you will find that the dimensions they use on the map are totally different from the ones on the ground. The land stakeholders were advised to go to the District surveyors who will amend the map if there is no dispute. It was also noted that many counties have been using the outdated value in land acquisition a behaviour that the ministry of land is getting rid of.
On the issue, of land succession which was also a topic that was discussed, it was noted that many families collide because of land succession. This mostly happens when a family member who owned a particular piece of land dies without leaving a will. Mr Herbert Were who was one of the coordinators in the workshop asked the audience a question, that left the stakeholders to wonder.
“Why is it that we are not prepared for death yet we know it is compulsory we will all die? “
Indeed it was not just a question but it had an impact on the issue of land succession. Mr Herbert added that it is always important before you die you leave a will to avoid some wrangles because of land succession.
The stakeholders were taken to the moment of being shown different presentations of land value index for different sub-counties in Bungoma County. Some of the factors that were considered in the allocation of the values are the Presence of Factories, Colleges, Supermarkets, and Banks. In areas where there is a college, you find that their Land value index will differ from the area where there is none. More colleges and Industries means more settlement, people settle around the area because they are working or learning there.
Places Like Webuye Town was given an area coverage index of 10million per acre, Webuye town was affected by the collapse of Webuye Pan Paper and Closure of Masinde Muliro satellite Campuses, this reduces the residents’ settlement a factor considered while allocating the value index.
The main aim of having direct interactions with the land stakeholders was to come up with a final draft of the land value index in Bungoma County. Some of the stakeholders who attended the seminar were very much happy because they got to learn things they were not aware of on land acquisition.
“This is a new idea in the county, it enables the government to limit or not to overspend on. Whatever project they have. Today’s seminar is all about information systems, what they are discussing here today is about identifying property that will be in the market for valuation.” Mr. Edward Kakai registrar of practice valuation said.
Mr. Abel Ateka, County Land Management Coordinator said they will be visiting each county nationwide for this kind of workshop to give information on land acquisition and valuation.