Kenya: How the Government Spent Sh2 Billion to Buy Its Own Land

A government agency paid Sh2.01 billion to compulsorily acquire land that is owned by the public.

The land between the City Cabanas and the Southern Bypass on Mombasa Road, was acquired for the construction of the Sh60 billion Nairobi expressway by the National Land Commission (NLC).

The Sh27.1 kilometre highway runs from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the city's Westlands.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly Monday, Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) Director-General Peter Mundinia said that the government never surrendered that stretch of land to individuals.

The Kenha boss told the MPs that during acquisition, it was established that "these parcels were actually road reserve land".

Buffer zone

"At no time did we surrender the land to be given to someone. The land is part and parcel of the buffer zone," Mr Mundinia told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

The Sh2.01 billion paid to Ms Roseline Njeri Macharia and Soyonin Farm Ltd, is part of the Sh5.84 billion that NLC, which acquired the stretch of land on behalf of Kenha, recommended as payment for compulsory acquisition and compensation.

The balance of Sh3.19 billion, includes Sh2.83 billion for land acquisition and Sh360.05 million for improvements on the land, is yet to be paid.

Documents provided in Parliament shows that 32 persons and entities have titles laying claim to the land.

For instance, Ms Macharia who claims ownership of land LR No. 209/11293/1 was fully paid Sh1.65 billion for the 10 acres, which is roughly Sh164 million an acre, and Sh303.12 million in improvements.

The improvements on the land include Sh273.48 million for Cabanas Park, Sh16.12 million for consumer link Communications Company Ltd, Sh2.2 million for audio visual concepts and Sh31 million for Finewalls Construction Company Ltd.

Soyoni Farm Ltd that claims LR No. 209/11942, which is 0.1428 hectares, has been partially paid Sh63.7 million as per the records in Parliament.

The latest revelations put NLC in a tight corner over whether due diligence to ascertain the land ownership was conducted before the money was paid.

Compensated

Mr Mundinia said Ms Macharia was compensated after NLC declared the land private and proceeding to undertake valuation.

"The commission must explain how it acquired the land because it belongs to the government. We have communicated our concerns and we have proved that they were parcels meant for road reserve," the Kenha boss added.

However, when questioned by MPs Wandayi, Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Dr Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) and John Waluke (Sirisia) about the questionable compensation, Mr Mundinia said it is NLC that acquired the land on its behalf.

This prompted the committee members to demand that ex-NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri be summoned for questioning.

"So NLC came to you with details of the purported land owners? And as we speak, are they still claiming to own the land?" asked Mr Wandayi.

Mr Duale wondered how this could happen without the knowledge of Kenha, with Dr Eseli also wondering how the land for which Ms Macharia was compensated would cost Sh164 million an acre.

"You must have done a survey on the land and taken it to the NLC. Am I right?" Mr Duale inquired.

However, Mr Mundinia told the committee that despite notifying NLC numerous times on the parcels, the commission is yet to respond.

"Kenha provided NLC with the acquisition plan that it was required to work within and decide which land to be acquired. We told NLC that at no time had we surrendered the land and it is upon it to determine how it did the acquisition," Mr Mundinia told the committee.

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