The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC)has trained its eyes on grabbed prime property in Kisumu town.
The anti-graft agency said that several cases are being processed and the value of recovery cases currently filed at the Kisumu Land and Environment Court amounts to over Sh8 billion.
EACC Western Regional Manager Abraham Kemboi said Kisumu is among the counties with many cases of grabbed public land.
Mr Kemboi spoke when he visited upmarket apartments owned by Sunshine Villas Limited located on Impala Park - Dunga Road which is set to be demolished after the Environment and Lands Court in Kisumu ruled that it was constructed on a grabbed public open space. Kisumu City Manager Mr Abala Wanga accompanied Mr Kemboi.
A 20 acre parcel which was meant for the construction of the regional Kenya Prisons staff quarters and offices is part of the land grabbed in Kisumu.
“The grabbed land which we are after includes about 20-acre parcel in Kisumu’s Milimani area where people have put up palatial homes,” Mr Kemboi said.
“I see another example of what occurred at Portland Cement land happening here in Kisumu unless the owners of the property approach the government and buy the land by following due process.”
The land in question has three estates including Ruby Court which has maisonettes and bungalows.
In October, property owners at the disputed East Africa Portland Cement land in Athi River suffered massive losses when their homes, churches and mosques, were demolished in Athi River, Machakos County, following a High Court ruling. The court declared that they were illegal occupants of the land.
In the Kisumu case, Mr Kemboi said that they are also going after the people who grabbed government houses meant for civil servants.
“We are also investigating how some government houses were taken over in Milimani area. Some Kenyans are interesting. They grab government property and lease it to the same government at an exorbitant rate. This is the case for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission offices in Kisumu. We are going after the grabber,” he said.
The EACC also said that other parcels in Nyalenda were fraudulently sold to a law firm which pocketed the proceeds without reference to Kenya Railways Corporation.
Another parcel owned by the corporation had been legally leased to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Kisumu but is now being claimed by grabbers who have filed a civil suit seeking orders of evict the iconic facility.
Others are the 18-acre Kibuye Market valued at Sh2 billion and land meant for expansion of Kisumu Water Treatment Plant and the construction of the County Assembly offices.
Previously the commission recovered land meant for Kisumu Law Courts, Kenya Railway (Kisumu Port) and Taifa Park.
“All persons holding titles of grabbed government property across the country are called upon to consider voluntarily surrendering the same to the commission instead of waiting for the costly and lengthy court process which may nevertheless see them doing the same and paying costs of the suit and interest to the commission,” said Mr Kemboi.
The Commission recovered the public property worth Sh410 Million which was grabbed from Kisumu County Government.
The property comprises a prime parcel of land located in the Kisumu Dunga area valued at Sh60 million with a storey building (Sunshine Villas) worth Sh350 million constructed on it by the grabbers. Sunshine Villas had charged the title together with other titles to the Bank of Baroda for a loan of Sh180 million.
Mr Kemboi also warned banks to do due diligence before giving out loans to those with title deeds.
“Financial institutions should be very careful when issuing loans with suspicious title deeds. They should do due diligence before proceeding to lend money to individuals or companies,” said Mr Kemboi.
Kisumu city manager said the open space was to be utilized as a sewer convergence point and is sitting on the main water pipes feeding the water from the lake to serve the people of Kisumu.
Initially it was meant to serve about 50, 000 people when it was constructed but currently the population of Kisumu is more than half a million hence need for expansion which Mr Wanga said have been thwarted over the years.
“The building is sitting in an area where the pipes should pass through. We can’t leave the building here and frustrate thousands of people who need water. The building must just have to go down because initially he was advised not to construct but out of impunity the developer proceeded,” said Mr Wanga.
Mr Wanga said they have about 76 cases of grabbed government property in Kisumu which they are currently pursuing. He asked those who grabbed to return them voluntarily.
The EACC stated that they are empowered to negotiate with graft suspects to facilitate their voluntary surrender of what they have stolen from the public, under the framework of Alternative Dispute Resolutions.