Politics and policy

State offers to sell South B dispute land

 Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei at Diamond Park Phase II Estate in South B, Nairobi, where some houses under construction were demolished on Wednesday. Photo/Salaton Njau
Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei at Diamond Park Phase II Estate in South B, Nairobi, where some houses under construction were demolished on Wednesday. Photo/Salaton Njau 

The government on Wednesday suspended demolition of Diamond Park housing project in Nairobi’s South B Estate and announced it was willing to sell the land to occupiers.

Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei said that the State is mulling over the option of offering the grabbed land at market prices to the current owners who say they acquired the government property from former powerful politicians and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

The 243-acre parcel of land in question is owned by the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute and demolitions had started on Wednesday morning before President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened to postpone the exercise.

Other properties marked for demolition include the 15,000-seater Winners Chapel auditorium and two other residential estates, Banque Villa and Executive Housing.

“We may agree to have them compensate the government at market rates for the land,” said Mr Koskei on Wednesday after the suspension.

“The current occupants are third or fourth buyers who are innocent people who were duped. The transactions are inherently fraudulent and they should pursue those who sold them for compensation.”

He said that the grabbers had left the institute with only 72 acres of land.

Government bulldozers on Wedenesday morning pulled down more than 25 houses under construction by Executive Housing.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko mobilised locals to chase away the demolition squad and later telephoned President Kenyatta over the matter.

The new proposal to give current occupants a chance to buy the public property offers relief to homeowners who had invested billions of shillings in the houses. It also offers respite for banks which had charged the land titles for loans and provided mortgages for purchase of houses.

Documents seen by the Business Daily show that the parastatal land was fraudulently acquired in the mid-1990s, subdivided and systematically allocated at throw away prices to Sharjah Trading Co. Ltd, Rielco Co. Ltd and Samu Ltd.

In May 1995, Sharjah Trading Company sold two of the plots for Sh500 million to NSSF. The firm had paid only about Sh100 million to acquire the land.

Diamond Park Housing Co Ltd bought three parcels totalling 25.2 hectares of the land from NSSF and put up two high-end housing estates which it sold to buyers.

The development is located on Likoni Road off Mombasa Road and consists of four-bedroom semi-detached maisonettes. Each of the units at Diamond Park has a price tag of Sh25 million, according to an online listing by realtor Villa Care.

Nigeria-based Winners Chapel International also claims to have bought its 2.9 hectare plot from NSSF. The mega church was officially opened by deputy President William Ruto in April last year.

The Kenya Bankers Sacco has also been caught up in the grabbed land dispute since it is the developer of Banque Villa residential estate, also earmarked for demolition.

The sacco bought two plots measuring 4.04 hectares from Rielco Co. Ltd and Anne Nyambura, who served as secretary to former commissioner of lands Wilson Gachanja.