Kenya Railways on spot over 544 parcels of land

Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga when he appeared before the National Assembly Public Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy at the Continental house, Nairobi on March 15, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya Railways Corporation is on the spot over alleged irregular allocation of more than 544 parcels of public land to individuals.

Senior managers yesterday appeared before the National Assembly Public Investments Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy, where they were put to task to provide evidence that the process was legal.

According to a report of the audited accounts of KRC for the financial year 2018/2019, the Commissioner of Lands and the defunct local authorities allocated the land to third parties without the consent of the corporation.

The committee heard that a three-acre piece of land at the Limuru Railway Station, a two-acre piece at the Kikuyu Railway Station, and parcels of land adjacent to the Mombasa station measuring between 0.75 and one acre have been irregularly given out.

“Further, another 529 parcels of land have been illegally allocated across the country. However, management has sought court intervention to repossess twenty-seven (27) parcels of land,” read the Auditor General's report.

The committee sought to know whether the land issued out was initially owned by the corporation and the amount in land rates accrued from the properties.

But KRC Managing Director Philip Mainga held that the land was lawfully leased for development and the corporation was accruing income.

He explained that in the case of Limuru, 1.05 out of 40 acres was awarded for go-downs. The land, he said, was later subdivided into eight industrial plots.

“Kenya Railways issued leasehold grants to interested developers for development of go-downs and warehouses for a term of 99 years with effect from 1st June 1948. The leases were later registered with the Commissioner of Lands. The grantees pay basic land rent to the corporation which holds the freehold interest over the properties,” said Mainga.

He was, however, at pains to produce relevant lease agreement documents. “You need to prove to this committee that this is your land and that you (KRC) issued them out by providing the original lease agreements,” said the committee chairman, David Pkosing.

“According to the Auditor General, three acres were irregularly allocated in Limuru yet the Managing Director has only substantiated 1.05 acres of the land in question. This committee needs to be told where the rest of the land is,” added Wajir West MP Yussuf Farah.

The MD asked for time to provide the relevant documents. “All these lands are historical and issued in the 1940s. We are however currently progressing on the titling,” added Mainga.

They are expected back in two weeks.