Kenya: Centum Subsidiary Gets Sh100bn Kilifi Land Back

The Ministry of Lands has started restoring ownership of part of the Sh100 billion Vipingo Industrial Park land to a subsidiary firm of Centum Investment Company after it emerged that there was double registration of title deed.

The director of land administration has directed Mombasa lands registrar to record the Centum's subsidiary firm, Vipingo Development Limited, as the rightful proprietor of the land.

In a letter dated March 3, 2021 signed by Aseri Kirungu for the director land administration, the registrar was directed to expunge the lease titles which had been registered in favour of a group of Kilifi residents led by Mr Wycliffe Tembo.

The letter was also copied to Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as well as Vipingo Development Limited.

Erroneous registration

The director indicated that the registration of Mr Tembo and others as owners of the land measuring 1,583 acres was erroneous as a result of misinterpretation of facts.

"After complaints by Vipingo Development Limited and after cross-checking our records it has come to our knowledge that another certificate already exists and duly registered at the Mombasa Lands Registry in favour of Vipingo Development Limited," reads the letter.

According to the director, this means that the lease that was in devour on Mr Tembo and others ought not to have been prepared in the first place.

As a result of the letter, the Mombasa Senior Registrar of Titles wrote to Mr Tembo directing him to surrender the title on grounds that it was 'erroneously and fraudulently processed due to misrepresentation of facts'.

"You are hereby summoned to surrender the Certificate of Title together with the registered lease that was issued in your name on July 27, 2020 for cancellation within the next 14 days," reads the letter signed by Mr S.K Mwangi Senior Registrar of Titles Mombasa.

The development comes days after Vipingo Development Limited filed its defence in court to a case in which Mr Tembo and Bambani Community Based Organisation are laying claim to the land.

Vipingo, through its managing director Kenneth Mbae, said the case is devoid of merit and "forms part of a well-orchestrated fraudulent enterprise being executed by the petitioner and other coconspirators with the aim of illegally acquiring the land".

The disputed land, situated along the Mombasa-Malindi highway, is part of the 10,254 acres that Centum Investment Company, acting through Vipingo Development Limited, purchased from another NSE-listed company, Rea Vipingo Plantations Ltd in March 2015. The land was comprised in 18 separate Titles.

In his response to the case, Mr Mbae says the petitioners are seeking to superimpose a new Title over a pre-existing one.

"Vipingo Development Plc acquisition of all its land in Kilifi in 2015 was by way of lawful Agreements for Sale entered into with the then registered owner of the land, Rea Vipingo Plantations Limited. As a consequence of these purchase transactions (for valid consideration), duly sanctioned by all the required authorities, the company secured the Titles to its land," said Mr Mbae in the court papers.

He added that the company has already initiated various developments on the land including construction of affordable housing, supporting local educational infrastructure development, construction of a large scale water desalination plant to supply water to local residents and investors.

It has also carried out diverse infrastructure developments to add value to the various sites on the land as an investment destination.

Prominent developments include 440 apartments, 74 maisonettes in a residential estate, large scale leisure and shopping centre, a large scale agricultural activity specifically sisal growing and road infrastructure.

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