The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has been ordered to pay some residents of Isiolo Sh413.9 million as compensation for violations of their rights to property after being relocated to pave the way for the expansion of Isiolo International Airport.
The Environment and Land Court in Isiolo further directed the Lands Cabinet secretary, Attorney General, National Land Commission (NLC) and the KAA to within 90 days’ place each of the 189 residents who filed the case to their respective parcels of land as allocated during a balloting exercise.
“I find that the petitioners (residents) have been rendered homeless for close to 20 years, they deserve compensation. I will award them a modest sum of Sh300, hardly enough to purchase two packets of maize flour, for each day the infraction of their right to enjoy their property has subsisted,” ruled Justice Peter Njoroge.
Justice Njoroge ruled that the petitioners have suffered general damages due to the losses of their land compulsorily acquired in the early 2000s.
“The petitioners were relocated from their land and for close to 20 years have remained landless as they were unable to access the land intended for their compensation. This is an unmitigated denial of their right to own and enjoy their property,” ruled Justice Njoroge.
He said this was proof enough that their constitutional rights to own and enjoy property had been violated.
The judge also noted that compensation for the petitioners’ land with their consent did not remove the responsibility of KAA and other respondents to ensure that they (petitioners) got full and prompt compensation for their property.
“Although an attempt was made to compensate them, there was no full and prompt compensation,” ruled Justice Njoroge, adding that the delay of 20 years exacerbates the indignity the petitioners have been subjected to.
The court further ruled the failure of the NLC to resolve the issue for 20 years debunks the argument that the petitioners had not exhausted local remedies.
Justice Njoroge ruled that before filing the petition, the petitioners had made overtures to all the respondents regarding their desperate situation but were ignored.
The Isiolo residents had told the court that they were part of more than 1,000 people whose lands were compulsorily acquired by the government for expansion of the then-Isiolo airstrip to an international airport.
According to the residents, they were supposed to have been compensated for the loss of their lands through a resettlement programme in Mwangaza, Isiolo town.
They argued that the resettlement program was to be based upon the results of the balloting exercise that was conducted by the defunct county council of Isiolo and were thereafter directed to make payments to cover administrative costs, annual plot rent, and demarcation fees.
The petitioners told the court that they were unable to take possession of their plots because they (plots) were invaded by hostile third parties who violently took over blocking their (petitioners) access and that they have remained landless for close to 20 years without compensation.
The CS Lands, AG, and KAA argued that the petitioners had not demonstrated how their fundamental rights were violated and that they (petitioners) did not show the size of the affected parcels of land about each of them.
They also told the court that the Land Act provides criteria for assessing the value of compulsorily acquired freehold land and that there was no valuation report attached to guide the court.