Family threatens firm over Sh519m SGR land payout

A decision to pay Africa Oil and Gas Limited (AGOL) for the acquisition of part of the land occupied by the Standard Gauge Railway’s Mombasa Station has sparked controversy, as a family – which had gone to court claiming ownership and lost – is still chasing for it.

The revelations contained in an investigation report seen by Sunday Standard show the use of intimidation, dirty tricks, malice and arm-twisting that has become characteristic in the dangerous world of land sharks.

At stake is Sh519 million paid to AGOL by the Government for the acquisition of 43 acres in Miritini.

The land used to be owned by the late Kamau Thiong’o, who was President Jomo Kenyatta’s driver and bodyguard, before it was acquired by the Government in 1976 for the construction of an industrial park.

Thiong’o was paid Sh93,555 to surrender the land on June 23, 1976. However, in a questionable decision the Registrar of Titles and Commissioner of Lands at that time did not develop a surrender of land instrument or make an entry of the change of ownership in the title deed. Later, the Government allocated the land to various entities, one of them being Golden Sparrow Ltd, an affiliate company of AGOL which paid all requisite fees and became the new owner of the land.

Everything went quiet until 2016 when the Government indicated that it wanted part of the land for SGR development, and Thiong’o’s family suddenly appeared demanding a piece of the pie.

By this time, the land was under the ownership of AGOL who were almost being paid Sh519 million for the land.

It appears that the family is holding onto this occurence at the Registrar of Titles to claim the land, but advice from the Attorney-General, the National Lands Commission and Kenya Railways back AGOL’s position that it indeed owns the land. “The claimants not only surfaced but they decided to approach the awardee directly with the view of intimidating or arm-twisting them to share the proceeds of compensation,” says the investigation report. “The said claimants sheltered under the court of law where they managed to halt the payment of the award by applying a series of injunctions until the court finally caught up with the fallacy of their claims and ruled in favour of AGOL.”

So far, Thiong’o’s family has been unable to show how the land reverted to them since there are records showing their father had surrendered it to the state. 

Once a piece of land is surrendered to the Government, a new survey has to be done if it reverts to the owners and a new number issued. This was never done and the property’s number remains 755. This fact is contained in a surveyors’ report on the property done by Kimoland Surveying Services on June 9, 2016. “Once the Government acquires land for a specific purpose, it is at liberty to allocate it to whoever is at ready to develop it,” said Kimoland Surveying Services.

But even after losing in court, it is alleged that Thiong’o’s family has been intimidating AGOL to share part of the money they received from the National Land Commision (NLC).

This is after losing all the available redress avenues, including writing a letter to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to stop the payments to AGOL.

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Africa Oil and Gas LimitedAGOLStandard Gauge RailwayNational Land CommisionNLCEACCEthics and Anti-Corruption CommissionSGR