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Don't rate our freehold land - Nyeri central residents.

Nyeri Central subcounty residents yesterday demonstrated against the county's plans to charge land rates on freehold land.

They arrived at the governor's office offices carrying placards and twigs.

Demonstrators Ndung'u Nderitu said he did not see the logic in rating freehold land. He said they were not opposed to rating leasehold land.

'Why should the government rate freehold land seven kilometers from Nyeri Central Business District? Where does the government expect an elderly woman who keeps a single cow get that money?' Nderitu asked.

Freehold is outright ownership of property and land on which it stands. A freehold estate in land (as opposed to a leasehold) is where the owner of the land has no time limit period of ownership

They accused the authority of intending to introduce hut tax that was charged by the colonial government.

Hut tax was introduced by the British colonialists per hut or household.

'We do not want to go back there. We shall continue to pay land rates for leasehold in town but we will not pay rates for freehold land,' he said.

He appealed to the governor to look for another avenue of revenue, like charging business people but elderly people alone in freehold land.

They also accused the county government of not involving the residents when doing the valuation land.

They said the government hired a valuer and went ahead to do a valuation on people's land without their consent.

'Why did the government go through all that process without involving the residents who own the land?' he asked.

He said land owners learnt of rate plan in the newspaper after they were give 28 days notice to verify the facts, which expired last week.

John Kabui from Gatitu said valuation role was initially in leasehold farms and accused the county government of extending the same to freehold farms.

He said the person hired to do the valuation overvalued their land which may lead to overrating their lands.

Valuation role is done once in every 10 years to correct anomalies in the documentation.

But Governor Mutahi Kahiga agreed with the residents that the valuations were exorbitant on some parcels of land.

The governor also said he took responsibility for not involving the people when the process started.

'It was not right for us to just bulldoze it the way we have done it and I think we needed to do it in a different way,' he said.

He said his government agreed with the demonstrators on most of the issues and said they will look into the them.

Affected areas included Gatitu-Muruguru, Kiganjo-Mathari, Kamakwa, Ruringu and Upper Rware, Giakanja in Tetu and Chaka in Kieni, which do not pay rates on freehold land.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Apr 2, 2019
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