Fixing your Parcel Boundaries

One of the legacies of colonial rule in Kenya is the land management system. The colonial government left us with two types of land – land meant for settlement by white settlers (in big urban areas and white highlands) which was very accurately surveyed as well as land meant for natives (in the native reserves). The colonial establishment did not have the time (or interest) to have native parcels accurately surveyed. As a result, the vast majority of land parcels are under what is called general boundaries. All the successive post colonial governments have not considered rectifying this a priority.

In the map below, we can see the current cadastral map for Kibera Primary School. This map does not indicate any positions, bearings or area. It only conveys the shape of the parcel and the relative proportions with respect to adjacent parcels.

Extract from the cadastral map of Kibera, Nairobi
Source: Survey of Kenya

Contrast this with the map of Olympic Primary School – below. Both schools are within 300m of each other. As can be seen here, the total area of the school is clearly indicated, the lengths and bearings of all the lines that make up the school’s boundaries are also defined as well as the coordinates of all beacons of the parcel (not shown below).

Cadastral Plan of Olympic Primary School, Nairobi
Source: Survey of Kenya

This is the difference between a fixed boundary and a general boundary. If you have a general boundary, it is your responsibility to ensure that the boundary is well maintained by fencing and planting a hedge along your fence. You can be penalized by the registrar for failing to do so. It is possible to convert land from general boundaries to fixed boundaries. To do so, you need to proceed as follows:

  1. Write a letter to the registrar of lands requesting for the conversion of your land to a fixed boundary.
  2. The registrar will ask you to pay a fee.
  3. The registrar will then invite all the neighbours that abut your property to be present during the exercise and they will sign off that your beacons indeed have been placed at the right spots.
  4. Engage a licensed surveyor (or their assistants) to prepare a cadastral plan like the one for NCC Olympic Primary School above. The surveyor will then prepare a map and have it authenticated by the director of surveys. The director will also amend the existing cadastral
  5. The surveyor will then present the cadastral plan to the registrar who will make an appropriate entry in the register

Advantages of Fixing your Boundary

  1. A fixed boundary enjoys superior status over a general boundary in the event of a dispute
  2. If the beacons of the land are removed, it is possible to re-establish them again without resorting to looking for the elders that were there during demarcation
  3. You have no obligation to maintain a fence or hedge to indicate the boundary
  4. With a fixed boundary, you are less likely to incur heavy losses occasioned by a neighbour’s encroachment into your parcel or your encroachment into your neighbour’s parcel
  5. The surveying exercise will provide you with crucial data that you can use for planning purposes e.g. lengths, slopes and area of the parcel.


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