Two State agencies are fighting over who should get credit for establishing that 17 parcels of land worth Sh2 billion earmarked for the Nairobi expressway on Mombasa Road are government-owned and therefore do not need to be compulsorily acquired.
The Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and the National Land Commission (NLC) agree that the parcels of various sizes between the City Cabanas interchange and the Southern Bypass are on either the buffer zone or the road reserve.
Kenha Director-General Peter Mundinia, appearing before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee two weeks ago, claimed that he was the first to notify NLC that the land is State-owned.
But when NLC acting CEO Kabale Tache appeared before the committee on Thursday last week, she said NLC was the first to discover that the land is public after undertaking due diligence.
Mr Mundinia told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that at no time has the government surrendered the stretch of land to private individuals.
He said that during the acquisition process it was established that “these parcels were actually on the road reserve or the buffer zone and are public land”.
“The commission must explain how it acquired the land because it belongs to the government. We have communicated our concerns and we have proved that they were parcels meant for a road reserve,” he said.
But Ms Kabale told the committee that the schedule Kenha presented to NLC for acquisition included the 17 parcels.
“The original schedule presented to us by Kenha for acquisition had these 17 parcels. But we commissioned an inquiry that established that the land is public property and that is how we stopped it,” she said.
“No one else would have stopped this acquisition other than NLC,” she added after Garissa MP Aden Duale sought clarity.
“Kenha is trying to blame the NLC. Go on record and say it is you who raised the red flag,” Mr Duale said, with Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo seeking to know whether the parcels were alienated and given to individuals.
As per gazette notice Nos 2161 of March 12, 2020, 6601 of September 4, 2020 and 78 of January 11, 2021, other than the acreage, the 17 pieces have parcel numbers and only 15 have entities and individuals claiming ownership.
In the April 6, 2021 letter to the Kenha boss presented to Parliament, Ms Kabale reminded Mr Mundinia of the April 1, 2021 technical meeting between the commission and Kenha officials.
Among the issues agreed on is that NLC was required to give feedback to Kenha on the outcome of the acquisition process, especially the status of the affected parcels where awards have not been issued because the land is potentially government-owned.
Kenha was then required to prepare background information and documentation to support a request for review of the parcels that were identified as falling within or were part of either a buffer zone or a road reserve.
NLC informed the Kenha boss that the 17 parcels were on either the buffer zone or the road reserve while others had been listed in the Ndungu land report and other reports as having been encroached on.
Ms Kabale noted that a letter she had sent to NLC on the matter was not responded to.
Mr Mundinia also told the committee that his inquiries to the NLC had not been answered.
“Kenha provided NLC with the acquisition plan that it was required to work within and decide which land to be acquired. We told NLC that at no time had we surrendered the land and it is upon it to determine how it did the acquisition,” Mr Mundinia said.
Those claiming ownership of the land include Lofty Les Fonds Ltd, LR No. 209/10502, 0.0297 hectares; Philips Healthcare Services, LR No. 209/12071/2, 0.797 hectares; and Polythene Industries Ltd, LR No. 209/14835/5, 0.0359 hectares.
The others are ASL Ltd, which claims ownership of three parcels - 0.0224 hectares on LR No. 209/14835/5, 0.007 hectares on LR No. 209/14835/6 and 0.0258 hectares on LR No. 209/12091.
Doshi Holdings Ltd claims 0.1071 hectares on LR No. 209/12049; Simba Colt Motors Ltd, LR No. 209/14088 of 0.3555 hectares; Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji, 0.172 hectares on LR No. 209/14870; and Zaheer Abbas Khimji, 0.2217 hectares on LR No. 209/14869.
The others are Taco Investment Ltd, 0.0742 hectares LR No. 209/12032/3; Panesars Ltd, 0.0498 on LR No. 209/14098; Kellico Ltd, 0.0028 hectares on LR No. 209/14097; Mandev Ltd, 0.0504 hectares on LR No. 209/9724; and Al-Haire Investments Ltd, 0.0371 hectares on LR No. 20912071/1.
Two other parcels have 0.1124 hectares on LR No. 209/12071/3/2 and 0.0517 hectares on LR No. 209/9725, but their owners are not listed in documents presented to lawmakers.