What you need to know:
- A private company is selling the prime property on behalf of KCB.
Dozens of squatters occupying land previously owned by East Africa Portland that KCB Bank wants to sell have urged the lender to investigate possible conflict of interest in the process.
The sale is spearheaded by former Portland senior staff and land speculators.
Portland used the 745-acre tract in Athi River, Machakos County, as collateral for a loan before surrendering it earlier this year to KCB to repay an outstanding Sh6. 6billion debt.
A private company is selling the prime property on behalf of KCB.
KCB is giving dozens of squatters the first right to buy the land and if they fail to do so, the plots will be offered to other buyers. This is meant to avoid evictions and demolitions of properties.
But in a protest letter that the Nation has seen, lawyers for the squatters claim land brokers have hijacked the sale process, working in cahoots with former Portland employees who they claim want to disfranchise the squatters.
“The membership of our client group have also learned a firm fronting itself as the verifying agent of our client membership and have opened offices in Athi River and Kitengela to register the purported person in occupation of the said parcel of land,” the letter says.
“We are not opposed to the exercise but we want to deal with legit agencies.’
Evict legitimate squatters
A search at the registrar of companies shows that the firm, associated with a local land broker, was registered on January 8, 2020, raising eyebrows and fears that it has doctored the original membership register in order to evict legitimate squatters.
Officials of the company could not be reached for comment.
Squatters also want the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate a local politician and former Portland senior staff over conflict of interest.
The squatters started settling on the land in 2010 after Portland exhausted its mining activities and announced it was selling it to locals.
Under umbrella groups, the squatters have built permanent houses, churches, mosques and other public utilities. The area has also been connected to the electrical grid.
The squatters have expressed interest in buying the land under the umbrella groups, saying they have collective savings dating from 2010.
Controversy has raged over the property that at one point split the cement maker.
In 2019, the firm’s board of management resolved to sell part of its vast land to raise Sh45 billion to settle debts and turn around the company’s fortunes.
Following the extraordinary meeting held on September 2019 27th, KCB was to be given the first priority in the sale of the land to settle the Sh5.4 billion debt.
But the cement maker managers were split on the mode of sale.
One faction pushed for the company to sell the land and pay the bank.
Another wanted KCB to sell the land and wire the surplus to the company’s accounts. The differences caused a storm in the boardroom.
This year, the cement maker also suffered a blow in court after its petition challenging adverse recommendations by the Ndung'u Land Commission that investigated illegal and irregular allocation of public land was thrown out.
In the report released 17 years ago, the Commission recommended revocation of titles allocated to the cement maker for 22 parcels in Machakos and Kajiado counties.
The court rejected the petition saying the firm had failed to challenge the Commission's recommendation within reasonable time.