Economy

Uncertainty as PSC fails to produce title for Parliament Buildings

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Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Parliament joins the list of key State agencies that have failed to produce proof of ownership of key land assets on their watch.
  • The revelations by the Auditor General are likely to stir anxiety even as Parliament lined up several projects to improve accommodation for legislators.
  • The PSC is currently undertaking the construction of a multi-storey office block at an initial estimated cost of Sh5.58 billion that will be connected to the National Assembly and Senate chambers by a drive- and walk-through underground viaduct.

The ownership of Parliament Buildings in Nairobi remains uncertain after the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) failed to produce documentation to prove the tenure of five crucial assets within the multibillion-shilling high-security complex.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu says the commission did not present title deeds for the main Parliament building, the Centre for Parliamentary Studies (CPST), Protection House, and the Juvenile Court House for audit review.

“The commission did not provide for audit review, ownership documents for…properties owned and controlled by the commission,” Ms Gathungu says in an audit report of the PSC’s books of accounts for the year to June 2019.

“Consequently, it was not possible to confirm the ownership of the assets owned by the commission and whether they are properly safeguarded.”

The PSC, the MPs’ employer, also did not produce the title documents for County Hall, which serves as its headquarters.

Title deeds are critical documents that show ownership of land or buildings. The lack of this crucial document has exposed prime government land, including those owned by State corporations and public utilities such as schools to the risk of invasion by private developers.

The revelation by the Auditor-General means that Parliament joins the list of key State agencies that have failed to produce proof of ownership of key land assets on their watch.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), which manages all airports in the country, could not produce title deeds for five key airports when queried by the Auditor-General in the year to June 2018.

The KAA management told the Public Investments Committee (PIC) chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir that title deeds for Kisumu International Airport and Manda Airstrip in the tourist town of Lamu were missing while the land titles for Eldoret International Airport and Wilson Airport were in the hands of private lawyers who were involved in cases active in court.

The KAA further disclosed that the title deed for Ukunda Airport was being held by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) in connection with an investigation related to the land.

The revelations by Ms Gathungu are likely to stir anxiety even as Parliament lined up several projects to improve accommodation for legislators.

Parliament has in the past five years been pursuing a multi-billion shilling plan to expand facilities and secure its premises to accommodate the rise in the number of lawmakers from 222 to 416.

The ambitious expansion plan has seen Parliament acquire several multi-storeyed buildings within what is now known as Parliament Square.

The new zone covers the area from Hotel InterContinental and Haile Selassie Avenue and between Uhuru Highway and Parliament Road.

The PSC spent billions of shillings to either acquire or lease Protection House, Harambee Co-op Plaza, Ufanisi House, Continental House, Juvenile Court building and Imani House.

Imani House, owned by the Anglican Church of Kenya, has signed a six-year lease with the National Assembly to house parliamentary staff, while proposals have been made to buy Ufanisi House or enter into a lease agreement with the proprietors.

The commission seeks to buy or lease Professional Centre, Baden Powell House, St John's Ambulance building, Ukulima Co-op House and Dundee House.

The PSC is currently undertaking the construction of a multi-storey office block at an initial estimated cost of Sh5.58 billion that will be connected to the National Assembly and Senate chambers by a drive- and walk-through underground viaduct.

The Auditor-General has raised a number of queries on the construction of the 26-storey office block, including variation of contract by Sh1.5 billion or 27 percent of the original contract price.