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by Wambui Babu,

Much has been discussed about land rights and all the inherent rights attached thereto, this has been a topic well dissected in many ways, areas and scenarios and what that emanates is that it is crystal clear and one would draw as a synopsis from all that discourse is that every human being has a right to access land and utilize it within the parameters of sustainable development and environmental consciousness.

This write up has nothing much to offer on matters appertaining those rights but conversely it delves into a topic that is not much broadly discussed either for lack of knowledge or lack of enough expertise in the area. The dragon we want to slay is the issue on TENABLE LAND REGISTRATION SYSTEM IN KENYA and the need for civic education. Many at times civic education has been viewed as education that ought to be disseminated to those who are less literal but in this particular instances the sort of civic education on land registration matters applies across the board, which is a result of a myriad land laws which have led to a lot of confusion even to the learned. The area of concentration is walking the readers through the new land registration laws, rules and regulations in layman terms.

This discourse is very wide in terms of all the problem thematic areas that I have drawn a conclusion need to be taught and/or explained. The areas are much in line with our law and for ease of discussion we shall look into every difficult area that people generally fail to understand IN the system or to translate the law and shall be discussed as outlined below:

  2. Discuss Land Reference Numbers or Land Title Numbers and their distinction

The descriptive method of land is by way of numbering. However, there is a distinction in numbering pegged on the law under which a parcel of land become existence at the first registration. This has been caused by the nature of how land laws have evolved since the advent of colonization to date. Without delving much into the intricacies and complexity of the laws, in a quick but concise explanation that is more easily explainable, is that we have had 3 major law regimes that have principally affected the title numbering. The laws are the Government Lands Act (GLA), The Registration of Titles Act (RTA) and Registered Land Act (RLA) which laws have since been repealed.


Under the GLA, the parcel numbers were referred to in numbers known as the Land Reference numbers where the registration of parcels of land was done in volume books in which every parcel of land was allocated specific pages in which all transactions appertaining the particular parcel would be recorded. Giving each parcel of land special volume number e.g. N40 volume 20 etc. This worked efficiently only save for when there were a multiplicity of transactions on a particular parcel and further became a cumbersome process when subdivision were carried out and more parcels of land were registered. This necessitated for an easier way to record transactions without dealing with the voluminous books that lead to the birth of the RTA.


The RTA in which, parcel numbers were referred to in numbers known as the Land Reference numbers, version of record-keeping proved to be satisfactory for a long period which has been used since independence until as late as 2012 when all the land laws were repealed. The RTA record-keeping was efficient because once the first registration was effected, each parcel of land was given a unique number called the Internal Registry Number (IRN No. in the case of trust land and IR No. in the case of other government lands) the proprietor of the land kept the original document of title and the lands office would, in turn, retain a Duplicate of the same and any consequent transactions would be recorded by presentation of the original title at the lands office for registration on it and on the Duplicate copy simultaneously and also leaving a copy of the document transacted in the lands office file.

The RLA way of registration also took effect post-independence, however, this was initiated for a much easier and faster way to settle Africans. Under this regime, the parcel numbers were referred to in numbers known as the Land Title numbers which drew their numbering from the area where the parcel existed in reference to the cadastral maps. The land was considered in settlement scheme form and mapped having been divided amongst the population. Those maps were referred to as Registry Index Maps and the numbers were, for example, MRITINI/MANGOMENI/ BLOCK/100. Miritini would be the division area, Mangomeni the location and the block referring to the number of large blocks divided within the area. The last number would refer to the actual property. This method of land parcellation and record-keeping has proved the most efficient to the extent that the new Land Registration Act 2012 adopts this form of registration on all parcels of land within Kenya. The justification being that cadastral maps are easily picked digitally reducing manipulation of records. This form of record-keeping led to local registries being opened in every district for ease of access to information.

As a conclusion on this part, for faster service delivery, it is recommended that all parcel of land within each county be converted to suit the current law regime and the same be hastily digitized to enable faster access to information especially in the application of searches by members of the public in this new age digital era.