Cement firm gives squatters three months to buy Mavoko land

Squatters have been given three months to take up the land that they occupy. [Paul Wafula, Standard]

East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) is seeking to end a decades-long standoff with squatters who have settled on its land in Mavoko, Machakos County, with an offer to sell them the land.

The sale could also offer the loss-making cement maker a firm footing as it seeks to clean up its assets that are shackled by controversies, and at the same time get some revenue.

The firm Thursday notified the people who have been squatting on three parcels of land in Mavoko to apply to acquire the property through a regularisation process that it is undertaking.

The squatters have been given three months to take up the land that they occupy, failure to which the company will offer it for sale to the general public.

“First and preferential priority shall be offered to the parties currently occupying sections of the said parcels. Those in this kind of situation are advised to apply for consideration of the same within 90 days from the date of this notice,” the company said.

“After the expiry of this notice, all unclaimed portions shall be competitively offered on a willing buyer willing seller basis.”

The notice follows a public stakeholder meeting last week during which the firm said the people occupying the land would be required to pay Sh600,000 for a plot measuring 80 by 40 feet in the regularisation process.

This is a highly discounted rate in an area where such a piece of land could easily fetch over Sh2 million.

People occupying the land would be required to pay Sh600,000 for a plot. [Paul Wafula, Standard] 

The land that EAPCC is seeking to dispose measures about 700 acres. The firm said a third of its land is occupied by squatters and it has been exploring ways of reclaiming it.

“Approximately 30 per cent of the investment properties are currently occupied by squatters. The company continues to pursue several avenues to reclaim the occupied properties.”

It is estimated that the cost of evicting the squatters would be about Sh425.9 million.

Other than the disposal, the company recently lost some land in the area, surrendering two parcels to one of its lenders after it defaulted on a loan.

EAPCC in its latest report to shareholders said it surrendered some of its land to KCB Bank after it failed to keep up with repayments for the loan.

The Sh3.3 billion debt had grown to Sh6.6 billion and KCB recalled the debt after the default.

“The company transferred LR 8786 to KCB for purposes of debt settlement, yielding a reduction of Sh4.85 billion," said EAPCC in its annual report for the year to June 2021. 

"The company is at the tail end of conclusion of transfer of LR 8784/146 to KCB for settlement of the outstanding debt."