Editorials

Secure KICC land title to keep grabbers at bay

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Nairobi's iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The building complex was repossessed from independence party Kanu in the early days of the Mwai Kibaki administration.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, under which the KICC falls as a parastatal, must therefore move to urgently secure the land ownership documents in order to protect it for future generations.
  • the ministry should also clarify why the parastatal has not listed the courtyard on which the statue of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta stands on its books.

The opacity over the holder of the title to the land on which the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) building stands is a worrying reminder of the risk of grabbing facing public utilities and resources.

The KICC was constructed using public resources and is now a State corporation. And as such, the title to the land on which it sits ought to be in the custody of its line ministry.

It is therefore perplexing that little effort seems to have been made to acquire the crucial ownership document since the building complex was repossessed from independence party Kanu in the early days of the Mwai Kibaki administration, despite repeated calls for the same by the Auditor-General’s office.

The fact that Kanu was as recently as 2012 claiming to still hold the title deed and listing the building among its assets is testament to the laxity with which this matter has been handled.

Given Kenya’s history where unscrupulous individuals have laid claim to public assets, even in instances when public interest in the said property is clear, this situation at KICC should worry every Kenyan.

The building is a national monument, easily the most recognisable symbol of the city of Nairobi and a centre of important national and international events. The Ministry of Tourism, under which the KICC falls as a parastatal, must therefore move to urgently secure the land ownership documents in order to protect it for future generations.

While at it, the ministry should also clarify why the parastatal has not listed the courtyard on which the statue of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta stands on its books.

The revelation that the parastatal does not have in its possession the title for this important national monument also calls for a complete audit of the land ownership status of all monuments and public property.

This is the only way we can deter land grabbers from laying claim to important spaces and benefiting from them even as they engage in long drawn court processes should the government try to revoke their ownership claims.

Failure to do so means that it will only take one determined, rogue individual in a powerful position to rob Kenyans of their heritage.