Land battle keeps Kwale residents waiting for Sh2bn SGR compensation

Cargo train

A cargo train moves above the Mombasa-Nairobi highway near Taru in Kwale. Almost 6,000 Chinese workers were brought in to build the first SGR phase.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Some of the companies involved in the battle for the billions include Kahia Transporters Ltd, Chunky limited, Curly Wurly Ltd and Trade Lead Ltd.
  • The National Lands Commission’s previous attempts to have the order suspending payment lifted has been fruitless.

The protracted battle between companies and more than 230 people has stopped the National Land Commission from disbursing more than Sh2billion to beneficiaries whose properties were acquired for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Kwale.

Some of the companies involved in the battle for the billions include Kahia Transporters Ltd, Chunky limited, Curly Wurly Ltd and Trade Lead Ltd. This protracted court battle, dating back to 2016, involves the ownership of the properties that were compulsorily acquired by the state.

The National Lands Commission’s previous attempts to have the order suspending payment lifted has been fruitless, as the court has maintained that genuine owners of the acquired land parcels must first be determined.

In the case where Kahia Transporters Ltd and  Chunky Limited are engaged in the legal battle over ownership of a plot taken by the state, each firm wants the court to determine that it legally owns the before the issue of compensation can be effected.

The logistic firm laid claims to the ownership of the land, arguing it has genuine title deeds of the plots that were forcefully acquired by the government to implement the Jubilee Administration’s flagship project in 2015.

The same plot is also being claimed by Chunky limited that has insisted that it was issued with original title deed after purchasing the plot in 2012.

Chunky Ltd  on its part argues that it has the original title that was issued to the original owner of the plot in 1993 whom in turn sold them the land.

Mr Kachungo Edward, Mr Charles Mulole, Mr Hamisi Tsuma and Mr Redalu Mbovu are also claiming the property, saying they are entitled to compensation.

They have claimed to have been in possession, occupation and use of the suit lands since time immemorial and hold valid native customary interest and titles over it.

But even as these court battle continues, multiple documents tabled in court, containing accusations and counter-accusations have lifted the lid on how ownership documents are obtained for a single land before the alleged owners lay claim for compensation. 

In the dispute pitting Lola Lugwe , 227 others on one hand and Kahia Transporters Ltd on the other hand, interesting allegations have been made, with each party claiming ownership.

The 228 persons , through their advocate Kinyua Kamundi, have accused Kahia Transporters of committing a fraud by leaving them out while pursuing the compensation despite knowing that they had stakes in the case. 

In their application to join the suit where Kahia Transporters ltd through its director Osman Kahia had sued the ministry of land, and other land agencies, the 228 persons accused Kahia of obtaining court orders against them saying such orders were procured fraudulently being based on a forged and incompetent lease and Certificate of Title.

According to them, the certificate of Title No. CR72836, which Kahia used to lay a claim to the property and then seek for compensation is a forgery.

Court documents shows that Kahia claim to have acquired the document upon a transfer registered on May 15, 2017 while four other persons who allegedly transferred the property to the company were themselves registered as proprietors in February 2019, that is two years after they transferred the same property to the firm.

“Kahia could not have acquired the property from the original allottees before those allottees themselves had acquired it,” said Mr Kamundi.

According to the advocate, the court had been used as an instrument for perpetuation of forgery, uttering false documents, perjury and multiple other offences.

“No court should permit its process to be used for that purpose and so when it discovers that it has unwittingly facilitated fraud it ought to undo or reverse that facilitation,” said the advocate.

The 228 people informed the court that the whole of the Maji ya Chumvi Land Adjudication section was initially Trust land before the promulgation of the current constitution whereby it became community land under the new constitution. 

“At no time did any part of Maji ya Chumvi belong to the government ,and the state therefore had no capacity to issue a grant to Kahia or its predecessors in the purported title,” they said.

Maji Ya Chumvi area is among many areas in Kwale county where land dispute has thwarted the commission’s efforts to complete compensation for those affected by the SGR project.

The court was then informed that the grant was a forgery owing to the fact that the lease dated February 5, 2019, which generated a certificate of Title dated February 7, 2019 signed by the Registrar of Titles were null and void.

The court has heard that forgery of land documents begins with the creation of fake  letters of allocation and Part Development Plan (PDP), which are then backdated and signed by rogue land officials. These documents are then taken through normal process before leases and title deeds are subsequently issued.

These documents are then used to initiate compensation procedures, often inflating the actual value of the properties involved. These multiple land case are still pending in court with mention slated for October 30.
[email protected]