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Court halts demolitions near JKIA for six months

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Terminal 1A at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A court has suspended plans by the Kenya Airports Authourity (KAA) to demolish buildings constructed near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi.
  • KAA had marked the properties for demolition over security concerns specifically for travelers, as the country continues to upgrade its international status. The properties are situated on five land parcels near the JKIA.

A court has suspended plans by the Kenya Airports Authourity (KAA) to demolish buildings constructed near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi.

KAA had marked the properties for demolition over security concerns specifically for travelers, as the country continues to upgrade its international status. The properties are situated on five land parcels near the JKIA.

While stopping the planned demolitions, Justice Bernard Eboso said the structures should be preserved pending outcome of an out-court-settlement proposed by the National Lands Commission (NLC).

The judge granted the owners of the properties together with KAA, National Buildings Inspectorate, Registrar of Titles Nairobi and the Attorney General six months to pursue and conclude alternative dispute resolution negotiations as recommended by the NLC.

The proprietors of the lands are listed as Mohamed Muzna Saleh (owning two land parcels), Stephen Gitari Githinji (one parcel) and Victory Homes Limited (owning two plots).

They moved to court after being issued with demolition notices giving them 14 days to vacate the properties, failure to which their developments would to be demolished.

They contend that they developed the suit properties with the consent, approval and knowledge of all government agencies and departments. They add that their titles had never been challenged nor revoked.

They urged court to restrain the KAA, National Buildings Inspectorate, Registrar of Titles Nairobi and the Attorney General from entering, encroaching, trespassing, working, developing, constructing, demolishing, removing or disposing the suit properties pending determination of the case. But the government, through the chairman of the multi-sectoral committee on unsafe structures, Moses Nyakiongora said the titles held by the plaintiffs were obtained unlawfully, illegally, fraudulently and without their authority hence they are a nullity.

The court heard that the titles held be the plaintiffs relate to and constitute an encroachment on the KAA’s land. It was said that the structures on the said land pose a security risk to the country’s airspace as they encroach on the flight path and were erected without approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

The court noted that the case is one in a series of many suits that relate to parcels of land which the government contend were illegally surveyed and titled out of a larger parcel which prior to that had been surveyed and titled in the name of the KAA.

“The KAA has denied consenting to or approving the resurvey of its land. They contend that their original survey plans and title are still intact. A lot has happened since the series of suits were lodged,” said the judge.

He stated that the Executive Arm of Government, together with relevant organs of the State have put in place an alternative dispute resolution mechanism involving grant of leases by the KAA on a case by case basis.

This is aimed at mitigating against loss of valuable investments as a result of what is alleged to be past illegalities.

“I direct parties to this suit to pursue the said alternative dispute resolution mechanism. This decision is informed by the need to avoid making court pronouncements that might jeopardize the possibility of an amicable resolution of the present dispute,” said the judge.

He however stated that the parties are at liberty to move the court for a pronouncement on the merits of the case should the negotiations fail. The matter will be mentioned on October 13, 2021 for further directions of the court.