HUNDREDS of General Service Unit officers risk losing their houses in Nairobi’s Ruaraka Estate after the government was slapped with a Sh3 billion bill for the 28 acres of land last month. In 1988 President Moi allegedly ordered GSU to take possession of the land without settling the purchase price. It was part of 96 acres owned by private citizens at the Drive-In Estate on the Nairobi-Thika Highway.
Government has received the bill after 23 years of feuding over the land. The Ministry of Provincial Administration and Internal Security has apparently begun negotiations on how to settle the debt without going to court. Internal Security PS Francis Kimemia yesterday said an inter-ministerial committee has been constituted to deal with the matter. “We have decided to form a committee and ensure the matter is looked into and resolved since it has been pending for two decades,” said Kimemia.
Also at risk of eviction are hundreds of squatters who have encroached on the neighbouring plots near the GSU staff houses. The outcome of a case filed by the two companies against Nairobi City Council will determine the fate of civilians allocated land on neighbouring plots.
Afrison Export Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd on July 28, 2011 moved to court and sued the City Council of Nairobi and the Attorney General for allowing unlawful acquisition of their land. They accuse the government and City Council of allowing the GSU and other parties to pay land rates while knowing that the land belonged to them.
The GSU officers officially moved into the houses after the government entered into an agreement with the two companies to buy off the house project that was standing on the 28 acres. The two companies had bought 96 acres on LR No 7879/4 from Joreth Ltd in 1981. The housing project was intended for the staff of Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Company Ltd, now Telkom Kenya, but in 1988 government intervened to have it transferred to the GSU. No money was paid for the 28 acres apart from the construction cost.
Kimemia yesterday said the unfolding crisis was serious but the government was working to transfer the 196 maisonettes to the GSU. A valuation of the property in 2006, acknowledged by the office of the Solicitor General, placed the value of land at Sh460 million. Land values on Thika Road have dramatically increased in five years. “The applicant claims that the government through various correspondences led them to believe that the government was going to acquire their property and compensate them for the sum…in the circumstances, you do not have any defense to the claim,” deputy solicitor general Muthoni Kimani advised the PS Internal Security by letter on July 27, 2006.
Nairobi City Council is accused of having continued to receive payments from the Internal Security despite the warnings and to have continued allocating portions of the remaining 68 acres to third parties and approving developments on the land. Cherengany MP Joshua Kuttuny raised the matter in Parliament on June 7 and asked why the Office of the President had continued to pay land rates to Nairobi City Council knowing it was a private property.
Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode responded that government was seeking a negotiated solution. He said the government paid land rates to save the entire parcel of land from being auctioned by the City Council to recover rent and rates arrears. The Internal Security ministry had paid Sh28.6 million as land rates arrears by June 2009.
But a suit filed by the two companies in the High Court seeks compensatory damages for unlawful allocation and trespass on its property. The suit drawn by Issa and Company Advocates wants the eviction of those who have been unlawfully allocated plots on the disputed land while negotiating for an eventual transfer of the portion occupied by the GSU.
The lawyer has made available an affidavit sworn by Geoffrey Mukisia Mbili as the director of the two companies. The affidavit is dated July 28, 2011, before Amani K. Sheila and Advocates. He says that is the known director of the two companies. The case will be mentioned on November 8.