Differences emerge in Portland Cement’s bid to sell off land

Geoner Systems

Geoner Systems surveyors identify beacons on plots on East African Portland Cement land in Mavoko, on May 20, 2024.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

Disagreements between opposing groups are threatening to scuttle the ongoing East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) plots regularisation process.

On October 17, 2023, EAPCC offered to sell and therefore regularise the occupation of those who had irregularly acquired plots. Three umbrella groups—Syokimau Mavoko Community Association, Ngwatanio ya Mukamba Self Help Group and Kathama Welfare Association—were recognised by EAPCC to handle the process on the squatters’ side.

Last month the cement firm, in collaboration with Geoner Systems, issued a notice in local newspapers to dispose of 2,872 non-registered plots. It was after this that a new group, Mavoko Muundani Residents Association, emerged. It termed the regularisation process opaque and demanded a review.

“We want revised terms of engagement with EAPCC. Geoner Systems has resorted to intimidation and harassment of the residents,” said Daniel Kimweri.

However, the three umbrella groups have accused the sprinter group of deceiving residents at the behest of land cartels.

They have distanced themselves from collecting money from members during the process, saying the Sh20,000 survey fee was payable to the Geoner Systems, not the umbrella groups.

“The briefcase association is out to con unsuspecting members. We discourage our members from parting with the Sh3,000 they are asking for and instead pay the money directly to Portland,” said Syokimau Mavoko Community Association chair Francisco Mutua.

Kathama Welfare Association chair Anthony Muthoka said: “Let our members not be misguided by individuals who are opposed to the payment for the plots with plans to buy them later.”

He claimed the splinter group was being used by a cartel eyeing the prime land.

The same sentiments were echoed by Ngwatanio ya Mukamba Self Help Group Chairperson Nicodemus Mulei, who said the grey areas in the regularisation process would be ironed out.

 "The three umbrella groups have approached the Machakos County government and the EAPCC to iron out the grey areas. The concerns raised by the county government a few months ago about caveat emptor and the issuance of payment receipts for the plots are being addressed," he confirmed.

 Mr Anthony Muthoka, chairperson of the Kathama Welfare Association, said the three groups had at least 6,000 initial members from informal settlements. He said since the regularisation process began, some members had sold their shares to third parties.

Sh100 million

"At least the total payment so far has reached Sh100 million. Despite the difficulties, the process is underway. Our members should not be misled by individuals who are opposed to the payment for the plots with the intention of buying them later," said Muthama.

A Nation spot check on Monday revealed that Geoner Systems surveyors were on the ground erecting beacons. Attempts to get comments from EAPCC were unsuccessful.

Earlier offers to squatters living on the land were made after intense negotiations, with 50m x 100m plots going for Sh750,000, 40m x 80m plots for Sh600,000 and 40m x 60m plots for Sh480,000.

Each plot owner was required to produce a membership certificate, a copy of their identity card and a Kenya Revenue Authority pin.

After an offer letter was issued to a plot owner by the consultant, he/she was required to pay a deposit of Sh100,000 and then obtain the sale agreement from EAPCC and the beacon certificate. On completion of the payment, under a three-year instalment period, a title deed will be issued to the plot owner.

The prime land is currently occupied by posh residential buildings, schools, churches, etc.

In 2019, EAPCC passed a board resolution to dispose of some of its 16,000 acres of land in Mavoko to raise Sh45 billion to settle debts and turn the company around. Two plots of land have since been transferred to KCB Bank to settle a loan.