- A subsidiary of Centum Investment Company wants court to throw out a case lodged by a group of Kilifi residents claiming ownership of part of the Sh100 billion Vipingo industrial park land.
- The firm, Vipingo Development Limited, has defended its ownership of the piece of land measuring 1,583 acres which Wycliffe Tembo Mwangome and Bambani Community Based Organisation are laying claim to.
A subsidiary of Centum Investment Company wants court to throw out a case lodged by a group of Kilifi residents claiming ownership of part of the Sh100 billion Vipingo industrial park land.
The firm, Vipingo Development Limited, has defended its ownership of the piece of land measuring 1,583 acres which Wycliffe Tembo Mwangome and Bambani Community Based Organisation are laying claim to.
Vipingo, through its managing director Kenneth Mbae, says the case is devoid of merit and “forms part of a well-orchestrated fraudulent enterprise being executed by the petitioner and other coconspirators with the aim of illegally acquiring the land”.
The disputed land, situated along the Mombasa-Malindi highway, is part of the 10,254 acres that Centum Investment Company, acting through Vipingo Development Limited, purchased from another NSE-listed company, Rea Vipingo Plantations Ltd in March 2015. The land was comprised in 18 separate Titles.
In his response to the case, Mr Mbae says the petitioners are seeking to superimpose a new title over a pre-existing one.
"Vipingo Development Plc acquisition of all its land in Kilifi in 2015 was by way of lawful Agreements for Sale entered into with the then registered owner of the land, Rea Vipingo Plantations Limited. As a consequence of these purchase transactions (for valid consideration), duly sanctioned by all the required authorities, the company secured the Titles to its land," says Mr Mbae in the court papers.
He adds that the company has already initiated various developments on the land including construction of affordable housing, supporting local educational infrastructure development, construction of a large scale water desalination plant to supply water to local residents and investors.
It has also carried out diverse infrastructure developments to add value to the various sites on the land as an investment destination.
Prominent developments include 440 apartments, 74 maisonettes in a residential estate, large scale leisure and shopping centre, a large scale agricultural activity specifically sisal growing and road infrastructure.
After acquiring the land in 2015, the Centum-owned company initiated a development master plan which process required securing change of user from “agricultural” user to “mixed use” to allow for diverse developments to be executed on the land.
Pursuant to the change of user, the title was surrendered by a deed dated February 12, 2020 and a new certificate of title was consequently issued on March 27, 2020.
The petitioners have another copy of title issued in July 2020 for the same parcel of land. In their petition they argue that the land was communal with no demarcation in terms of ownership.
However, it was divided into residential areas where there was communal living in terms of villages, farming and grazing grounds where each distinct portion of land was utilised by clans and families.
After the colonial period the land was compulsorily acquired by government, sub-divided into various parcels and leased to Rea Vipingo Plantations limited for a period of 999 years.
They say that in 2001 Rea Vipingo Plantations Limited surrendered six blocks of the land back to the government. Two blocks were later amalgamated and allocated to trustees of the clans. It is the amalgamated block that is at the centre of the court dispute.
The petitioners told court that on June 24, 2020 the Chief Lands Registar and the Officer Commanding Kijipwa police station issued them with lease document and on July 27, 2020 they were issued with the Certificate of Title.
The petition indicates that they have already kicked off process of mobilizing funds to subdivide the land to individual members of the clan.
But Mr Mbae says the land was not as a result of the amalgamation as alleged by the petitioners.
He says the the Surrender Deed has absolutely no correlation to the land being claimed by the Petitioners.
“The Petitioners’ contention that their fraudulent Title was birthed by this Surrender Deed is patently devoid of factual basis and unsupported by their own evidence,” says Mr Mbae.