Legislators give demand on KICC grabbed land

Written by on 1 March 2024

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy have directed the Ministry of Lands to allocate two prime parcels of land occupied by Garden Square and Comesa Grounds to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) management.

Committee has consequently given Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome a month to issue KICC with a title deed and table the same in Parliament.

The High Court had directed the National Lands Commission (NLC) to allocate the disputed land on which Garden Square Restaurant stands to whoever applied for it but the latter opted to write to the Nairobi County Government seeking authority to proceed with the process.

The Environment and Land Court in a ruling delivered on June 30, 2022, declared that the land occupied by the restaurant is unalienated public land and directed that the commission considers applications for allocation of the said land by KICC and Garden Square in line with the Land Act.

But yesterday, the committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing, told the CS to ignore any move by the commission and allocate the land to KICC.

“Madam CS, this is a matter of open land grab by cartels and unless you use powers bestowed on you, this piece of land will go,” Pkosing noted.

Committee further directed the NLC chairperson Gershom Otachi to withdraw a letter he had written to the Nairobi County Government seeking a resurvey of the land the building sits on.

Commission had in the letter indicated that it would allocate the adjacent land that houses Garden Square to the individual running the business.

The committee, however, dismissed attempts by Wahome to seek more time to consolidate all the requisite documents.

“The route you are taking is the wrong one. You are simply giving the cartels more time to prepare themselves and end up grabbing the land,” Pkosing told the CS.

The committee members further questioned the commission’s move to cede powers to the county government.

“The commissioners must come out clear on their interest in the land. The High Court pronounced itself on the matter that the commission allocates the land. So, why involve the Nairobi County?” asked Pkosing.

Deliberate move

He said actions by the commission were a deliberate move to frustrate KICC from acquiring the land in question.

Posed Pkosing; “How can the commission interpret a court decision in the interests of other entities? Court told the commission to allocate the land based on the law and KICC made a request. The reason why the commission engaged the county government can therefore not be explained.”

KICC sent a request to be allocated the piece of land in 2022 but the commission has not responded to date.
Committee members, Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Mwangi Kiunjuri (Laikipia East) took issue with the ministry for failing to give proper advice to the government on privatisation of the iconic building.
“The KICC issue is more than what we are discussing here.

The decision of privatisation of the convention must be explained. Who misadvised the President since you cannot sell something you do not own, as it is part of the land and does not belong to the government?” posed Kiunjuri.

Committee further directed the commission not to carry out any transaction or allocate the land until after Parliament gives the way forward.

Kasarani MP Ronald Karauri said the piece of land was once registered under the name of the late President Daniel Moi and former Kanu Secretary General Peter Oloo Aringo.

“The piece of land has been allocated since the revocation of the land, no one should claim ownership,” said Karauri.

But Pkosing maintained that the commission was convoluted and had other interests and not those of the public.

“In our view the whole issue is suspect, the commission is working for cartels and not the public which is their mandate,” Pkosing added.

The Auditor General’s for the year ending June 2021 in particular raises questions about land commonly referred to as Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) parking area and Courtyard which is the area on which President Jomo Kenyatta‘s statue stands.

She also cited the land on which Garden Square Restaurant stands, which is under dispute between the Corporation and the County Government of Nairobi but explained that a letter from the Chief-of-Staff and Head of Public Service to the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development had clarified that the land in dispute has since been gazetted as a national monument and a part of the Corporation.

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