What you need to know:
- In his petition, Mr Kisendanyi accused the county administration of illegally acquiring, annexing, alienating and surveying the land without public participation.
- According to the activist, the county has hastily acquired and subdivided a total of 1,500 acres of land without following the requirements of the law.
The Environment and Land Court has halted a bid by the Nakuru County government to build a County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP) in Njoro.
In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Anthony Ombwayo issued orders temporarily suspending the county government's plans to acquire 640.6 hectares of land belonging to Egerton University as the site for the Sh500 million project.
The orders followed an application by rights activist Ezekiel Kisendanyi, who questioned the legality of the land acquisition process.
The third and fourth parts of the petition sought an order quashing the decision of the county to acquire and develop the said land belonging to Egerton University into an industrial park.
"In the meantime, I do grant conservatory order in terms of prayer 3 and 4 of the notice of motion dated November 9, 2023,” ruled Justice Ombwayo.
In his petition, Mr Kisendanyi accused the county administration of illegally acquiring, annexing, alienating and surveying the land without public participation.
According to the activist, the county has hastily acquired and subdivided a total of 1,500 acres of land without following the requirements of the law, which he said could result in the loss of public land belonging to a government institution.
He argued that the subdivision of Egerton's 640.6 hectares of land did not comply with the principles of land policy and Article 60(1)(d), which provides that land in Kenya shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable, and in a manner that is transparent and cost-effective.
According to documents filed with the court, the land in question, LR No. 527, has a 50-year lease that was renewed in 2005 by Egerton University.
The said land has already been divided into four plots; LR No. 527/2 - 150 acres for the purpose of CIAP, LR No. 527/3 - 150 acres for the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and two other mega plots LR No. 527/4/5 - 1,200 acres whose use and ownership is yet to be determined by the authorities.
"The county government and Egerton University never complied with the Constitution and the Statute Laws calling for public participation in such transactions involving public land and it was without proper consultation," he claims.
The activist has sued Egerton University, the National Land Commission, the Chief Land Registrar, the County Land Registrar, the Surveyor and the Attorney General.
He wants the court to declare that the process of acquisition of the said land by the district administration is in contravention of the constitutional provision and that the court should declare it null and void.
The petitioner also wants the court to order the county to conduct a fresh public participation exercise before embarking on the acquisition process.
“The petitioner prays for orders that an order of mandamus compelling the county and the Egerton University and their officers to conduct a proper public participation in relation to the whole process of setting up a county aggregation and industrial park,” read part of the petition.
Mr Kisendanyi claims that the county government illegally forced the university to hand over part of its land as an inducement to get approval for the subdivision.
The ruling is a major setback for Governor Susan Kihika and the Kenya Kwanza administration's development agenda to create jobs and wealth through the manufacturing and processing of agricultural products.
The national government has set aside Sh4.7 billion for the construction of CAIPS in the counties to boost manufacturing, with the counties also committing a similar amount to the project, which is a partnership between the county governments and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.
Each county is expected to contribute Sh250 million and provide a minimum of 100 acres of land for the establishment of the parks to implement the project in the next financial year.
This will be used to fund the provision of electricity, water, waste water management, internet, security and public transport.
The industrial parks, which will be home to a variety of industries including ICT hubs, energy sector companies, engineering and construction firms and chemical industries, will have all supporting infrastructure such as power, water and the park ring road completed within three months, after which investors will be allocated space and allowed to operate immediately as the spatial plan is ready.
Nakuru County had already started the process by approving a policy document for the establishment and implementation of the park and the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Justice Ombwayo ordered the county government to file its defence before the inter-party hearing on December 5.