High rates, residents claim, have the overall effect of discouraging potential investors from putting their money in Kajiado County
By Beverline Timanoi and Zipporah Kariuki
Landowners in Kajiado East and North constituencies are unhappy at the manner in which the county government intends to collect revenue from them.
In separate forums conducted by the County Assembly Committee on Finance to collect views on land rates from the public, landowners from the two densely populated constituencies accused the county government of demanding high taxes while giving little or no services.
The high rates, they claimed, have the overall effect of discouraging potential investors from putting their money in Kajiado County.
In Kajiado East, the residents called for a reduction on the proposed rate of Sh4,000 on leasehold plots, which was previously pegged at Sh1,500. They indicated a willingness to pay Sh2,000. They also took issue with change of user fees currently pegged at Sh70,000, arguing that it is too high for people who wish to conduct business in the county.
“We are grateful that the rates have been reduced from Sh20,000 per annum to Sh8,000 per annum for commercial plots and Sh4,000 for single dwelling plots, but we still insist that they be reduced further. When the rates are high, we are unable to pay and that leads to less revenue for the county government,” said Chris Simiyu, a resident of Utumishi in Kitengela.
Residents of Oloorsirkon Sholinke Ward decried the manner in which the Finance Bill was disseminated in the rural areas. The urged the committee to make use of local Maasai radio stations for advertisements instead of national newspapers whose reach in the rural areas is poor.
Longton Jamil, a civil society activist based in Kitengela, sought clarity on commercial rates to be charged for the different Kitengela estates, insisting that some title deeds are not clear on the correct location. He said that rates charged in Kajiado are exorbitant. “I have done my research and found that Kajiado County land and property rates are among the highest in Kenya, discouraging potential customers from investing,” said Jamil.
Property owners who have commercial buildings in rural parts of Kajiado East insisted on lower rates due to the less income they generate compared to properties in urban towns.
Another proposal that gained popularity was that the property and landowners were getting confused on which rates to be paid at the national and county levels, and inquired if a joint portal for payment can be created.
“The Finance Bill was proposed by the CEC in charge of Finance and our role is to get the views from citizens before passing it into law in the Assembly,” explained Daniel Naikuni, who chaired the meeting.
On their part, Kajiado North residents unanimously rejected the new land rates proposal from the county government. The residents, who aired their views in a stormy public participation session in Ngong town, noted that despite Kajiado County being ranked as the best in revenue collection, there is no corresponding development on the ground.
The residents called for a “proper survey” to be conducted before the proposed rates could be implemented. They also urged the county government to allow a case lodged in court by Ngong plot owners to be decided first before the new rates could be effected.
Another bone of contention is the different rates charged for different parts of the constituency, yet when it comes to revenue allocation for development purposes, all wards are given equal amounts.
The Finance Committee members took time to remind residents that the development they will get in their respective areas will depend on how well they pay the rates.
The public participation forums are in keeping with the Kajiado County Rating Act and Public Finance Management Act.