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KU land tussle: VC Paul Wainaina hints he's been fired, council dissolved

KU Vice-Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor Paul Wainaina says he has been relieved of his duties, and the university council dissolved. 

This comes barely a week since President Uhuru Kenyatta sent warning shots over an ongoing land transfer tussle between Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.

In an address to students on Tuesday at the institution’s amphitheater, the KU boss hinted at a possibility of the current university council being dissolved for refusing to cede land for the World Health Organization (WHO) project.

“This is the last day I’m talking to you as a VC. I understand a new council is being formed to that effect. That has happened because the university council and I refused to cede KU land,” Prof Wainaina said.

While reading a letter to the students, Wainaina said that the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua had written to the institution demanding its VC and council surrender part of the land owned by the institution.

“The letter by the Head of Public Service Kinyua had directed us to give the land to the hospital after a decision was made by cabinet. We have told the Education CS that the university council doesn’t have the capacity to give land, but to protect it,” Wainaina said.

“We told them that the land we have is planned [for] and we even attached the strategic plans we had. There was no response,” he added.

According to Prof Wainaina, Kinyua had directed them to enable the Ministry of Land officials to inspect the land and provide a written agreement for subdividing the land in question.

“The letter indicated that 30 acres will be given to WHO for a project, 10 acres to the Centre for Disease Control, 180 acres to KUTRRH and another 190 acres will be used to settle Kamaye squatters,” he explained.

Prof Wainaina also says that the institution has been directed to surrender the title deeds to the lands ministry for re-planning and facilitating resolution.

The letter also directed the KU Council to meet by Monday and give a way forward.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during 100th International Co-operatives Day celebrations at KICC, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

“We were also directed that there would be a consultative meeting at 2 pm in Harambee House and asked to confirm the status of action by ensuring council members are in attendance. I have received a call from Kinyua’s [Head of Public Service] office postponing the meeting,” he revealed further.

Prof Wainaina said that the letter was sent to them on Saturday.

On Saturday, the Head of State said the 1,000-acre piece of land at the centre of the dispute was not individual property, but that of Kenyans, who have entrusted persons in leadership to take care of it.

“Property, whether State House (which I will be leaving in a few weeks) or a hospital, a university like this one, is the property of Kenyans held in trust. You are just a caretaker,” Uhuru said while launching the ultra-modern Cath Lab at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH). 

He warned that officials involved in the dispute shall be dealt with “swiftly and effectively.”

“I will go home with them in three weeks,” Uhuru said.

Prof Wainaina had earlier said that the university was opposed to the project after KUTRRH failed to consult them over the use of the land.

According to him, the land was set aside for the construction of a children’s hospital after KUTRRH was made a parastatal.

[Additional reporting by Beldeen Waliaula and Nathan Ochunge]