Mombasa varsity asks High Court to expel private developer from 1.5 acre property

A university wants a court to declare that a private developer illegally acquired land it is claiming.

The Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) has accused Timeless Properties Limited of encroaching on its 1.5 acre piece of land next to the Indian Ocean shoreline.

TUM has claimed that Timeless Properties obtained the land without the university's knowledge.

TUM has also accused the Chief Land Registrar and the Mombasa Land Registrar of issuing an illegal title deed to Timeless Properties with a lease of 99 years.

Yesterday, Charles Opulu, the lawyer representing TUM, told the court that the land registrar had failed to rectify the irregularities resulting from the illegal allocation.

Mr Opulu said TUM had planned to build a faculty on the land to house marine engineering courses in 2009 when the university administrators learnt that Timeless had illegally acquired it. 

Illegally acquired

"The university requires the land urgently to continue the construction of the Marine Engineering Faculty premises," said Opulu.

The university has 27 acres, most of them reclaimed from the ocean.

"We seek an order for the cancellation of the title deed to the 1.5 acres of land near the ocean which is currently wrongly considered the property of Timeless Properties. We also want the proper boundaries of the land restored," said Opulu.

According to documents presented by the lawyer, TUM has been running research on marine engineering-related issues on that portion of land since 1950.

Opulu explained that TUM constructed a building on the land known as a "boat house" for academic purposes and that the building was still standing.

He averred that the university has been reclaiming land from the ocean since 1980, most of it for marine-related studies.

In its defence, Timeless said it bought the land from Cresent Limited in 2006 for Sh4 million.

Timeless Director Liston Mramba said through his lawyer, Tebino Martin, that the land was never carved from any of TUM's holdings.

He said his company was issued a certificate of lease by the Government after completing the purchase.

"In 2006, we became aware of the availability of the land for sale through a Gazette notice. Our lawyer helped us carry out due diligence and we established that the title deed was legal," said Mr Mramba.

He accused the university of trespassing on the property and starting to construct building blocks illegally.

Mramba asked the court to order the demolition of all the buildings TUM has put up on the property.

The developers also want to be compensated for the loss and use of its land at full market value.

TUM, however, insisted that Timeless had no basis for the ownership of the land and should be kicked out.

"In 2006, it was discovered that a certificate of lease was issued to Timeless Properties. But notice was never given to the university before the 1.5 acres was carved off," said Opulu.