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Swazuri says 'No' to new Bill on land use.

By DAVID MWEREThe National Lands Commission is opposed to a bill that threatens to strip it of powers to plan, regulate and develop property.The Physical Planning Bill, 2017, introduced at the end of last year, is pushing to have these functions handled by a new national physical planning consultative forum, which should have 63 members appointed by the Cabinet Secretary.

The commission chairman, Dr Muhammad Swazuri, said in a document to the National Assembly Lands Committee that the bill does not meet the requirements of the new Constitution since it "seeks to maintain the old order.""The proposed bill is not fundamentally different from the law it seeks to repeal, which has not been effective.

It introduces cosmetic changes," he said, adding that the content and scope was limited to urban areas and does not cover challenges in places such as rural, marine, mining, transport planning, environmentally fragile zones and transnational.The commission and the parent ministry have had a frosty relationship since the Jubilee administration came into power in 2013.Previous Cabinet Secretaries Charity Ngilu, now Kitui governor, and Fred Matiang'i, the Interior CS, have had differences with the commission over role-sharing with several attempts to kick the commission out of Ardhi House, which houses the ministry.

At stake is the fear that the bill would cause confusion if adopted by the MPs and signed into law because it could lead to duplication of roles between the ministry, the commission and counties over land use and development.Dr Swazuri warns that the proposed law violates the Constitution in Article 68 (b), which requires Parliament to revise sectoral land use in the country.

"The proposed law limits and distorts the functions of the NLC and therefore contravenes the fundamental principles, letter and spirit of the Constitution, which include devolution, public participation and good governance," he says in a brief to the committee which is scrutinising the bill.The bill was created by the ministry through the support of the Cabinet before it found its way to the House.

On December 2, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that it is the commission's mandate to monitor and oversee land use and planning throughout the country.The commission had sought an advisory opinion on the specific roles of the two agencies.

The five-judge bench declared that the roles of the two do not overlap and that as the ministry conducts its functions, the commission acts as the industry regulator to ensure compliance with the Constitution and the Act.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Feb 12, 2018
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