Francis Kahura secured a court injunction last Thursday, hours to the auctioning of his three flats along the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway.
Kahura had in 2010 secured a Sh234 million loan from a bank to develop the flats that have 130 units but he had defaulted in repayment.
Yet it is not his fault. He was servicing his loan regularly with Sh3.9 million annual rental income until a year ago when tenants fled after his property was marked for demolition by Government.
That was in November 2017, when Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) marked his property for acquisition, among land owned by 4,000 other people, to pave way for the expansion of the 10-kilometre road that stretches from Waiyaki/James Gichuru road junction to Rironi.
Classified as Road No 104 A, the 4,000 property owners Project Affected Persons (PAPs) were to receive Sh7 billion compensation to give way for the road expansion following Government’s compulsory acquisition of their property.
But the affected have never been compensated yet the Government has ruined their sources of income.
The land owners who had invested in commercial and residential houses as well as other businesses have lived a life of misery since.
For Kahura, his rental houses are vacant, as no tenant would dare move into the flats, especially with horrific memories of recent city demolitions.
Kahura has fallen into hard times and although he got a reprieve from court last Thursday, he is not sure for how long he can keep the bank at bay. The harsh times have put the life of his elderly ailing mother on the line too.
“In November 2017, KeNHA marked my flats for demolition, triggering a mass exodus by my tenants. This rendered me unable to service my loan. In December 2017, the bank wrote me a demand letter. The bank was to auction my property on Friday last week,” Kahura said.
That is why Kahura went to court. “But I wonder for how long this will continue. We were given award letters by KeNHA and National Land Commission (NLC) indicating that we would be paid. This has not happened,” Kahura said.
Kahura's experience is shared by other 4,000 property owners who are now struggling after their businesses were disrupted. Some can barely feed their families, yet months back they had a life of abundance, enjoying the fruits of their investments.
Kimani Njuki, vice-chairman of the PAPs adhoc committee, said he had lost a Sh50 million project that his Rokim Company had won to make energy saving improved cooking stoves.
“We competitively won the Sh50 million USAID funded project to produce 18,000 stoves. I invested Sh20 million in staff, facilities, tools and machinery. But when my workshop was earmarked for acquisition, USAID closed the project when it was 15 per cent complete. Now I have machines worth Sh40 million lying idle,” said Mr Njuki.
He said his manufacturing business was now in limbo and continued to suffer damages and losses. He is afraid of eventually losing his only source of income.
Jacqueline Njoroge is another landlady whose 34 flats at Kangemi, Mountain View are to be demolished. She had secured a Sh53 million bank loan and she, too, has defaulted repayments as tenants have fled.
Benjamin Gikaru, who owns Benwa Agency, Benwa General Supplies and Acacian Property Care that are to be demolished, said he was losing Sh14 million every month in projected income.
“My shop at Kinoo market on plot number 2965, which used to give me Sh1 million, is closed due to the project. My butchery and commission from managing five apartments and selling property between Uthiru and Kiambaa used to give me Sh13 million per month. All this has stopped,” Gikaru said.
Margaret Wambui of Kinoo, who used to sell fruits and vegetables at a shed locally, is jobless after the sheds were demolished.
“As a result, I am unable to pay fees for my children and the head teacher has given me notice that he won’t accept my children this term. My life has changed and left me poorer,” Wambui said.
Kimani said the group had petitioned the World Bank, which is funding the project, National Assembly, Senate, Ombudsman, NLC, KeNHA, Ministry of Transport, the National Treasury and other relevant bodies for help to no avail.
A letter written to them on January 4, says Government has cancelled the loan by World Bank to finance the National Urban Transport Improvement Project (Nutrip).
“This is to inform you of the outcome of the meeting held on December 21, 2018, at the National Treasury with Government and World Bank on the James Gichuru-Rironi component of the Nutrip project. It was decided that the loan, which is financing Nutrip, be cancelled. This cancellation took effect on December 31, 2018,” said a letter signed by Eng SO Omer for KeNHA Director General.
The letter further says Government will take over the financing of the project.
On December 21, last year, Johan A Mistiaen, World Bank’s acting country director, wrote a letter and assured the PAPS that the bank took their concerns seriously.
“As you are aware, KeNHA is implementing this project on behalf of Kenya Government. We will work with KeNHA to ensure your complaints are addressed,” Mistiaen said in the letter.
NLC acting chairperson Abigail Mbagaya said the commission was to complete property verification process last November but the assigned officers were recalled to complete the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) land acquisition process.
“NLC and KeNHA officials will embark on completing the evaluation process this month and once this is done, PAPs will be issued with award letters,” Ms Mbagaya said.
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