Portland Cement clarifies land disputes, warns against fake sellers

Demolitions on the controversial land belonging to the East African Portland Cement Company in Athi River. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

The East African Portland Cement (EAPC) has issued a statement to clarify its position on two land matters that have been in the public domain.

The company said it owns a 4,298-acre parcel of land in Mavoko Sub-County, Machakos County, and that it had warned the public against buying disputed land from unofficial groups.

The warning comes even as the Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome urged Kenyans to be careful when purchasing land with a history of issues, saying that some are rushing into such deals without conducting due diligence.

"Kenyans seem to be rushing to buy land with issues. I don't know whether it is naivety or a culture of Kenyans who want to buy land where there are questions," Wahome said during a briefing on customary tenure rights in Nairobi on Tuesday, October 17.

On Tuesday, EAPC held a press conference at its headquarters in Machakos County to clear the air on the land ownership case between the company and Aimi Ma Lukenya Society.

The company's Managing Director, Oliver Kirubai, and Chairman, Brig (Rtd) Richard Mbithi, announced that the Environment and Land Court in Machakos had ruled in their favour in a land dispute case.

The court confirmed that EAPC was the legal owner of the land registered as LR No. 10424, and that the title deed held by Aimi Ma Lukenya Society was fake and invalid.

"This landmark decision marks the culmination of a nine-year legal battle initiated in 2014 when Aimi Ma Lukenya Society fraudulently claimed ownership of the land. The society's case crumbled due to their inability to produce the original title, contract documents, or any evidence of payment to support their alleged transfer. The title deed they presented was also found to be fake," said Mbithi.

He added that documents submitted in court revealed that although the society claimed the land was transferred to them on May 20, 1980, records from the Registrar of Societies indicated that Aimi Ma Lukenya was registered on September 25, 2014, the same year they filed the lawsuit against EAPC.

This, Mbithi said, establishes that the society did not exist prior to 2014.

Mbithi said the Ministry of Lands has further confirmed the legitimacy of the title deed held by EAPC, affirming the company as the rightful owner of the land.

He said the ministry verified that the documents held by Aimi Ma Lukenya were fake and could not serve as a basis for ownership.

"Throughout this legal journey, EAPC consistently cautioned the public against unauthorized groups claiming to sell the company's land. Public notices clearly stated that the disputed parcel of land was not for sale," said Mbithi.

He said EAPC made direct appeals to illegal invaders to vacate the land and provided a grace period for them to retrieve their belongings.

The messages, he said, were conveyed through multiple channels, including public notices, media, and engagement with local administration.

The company also said that it had issued a notice in Tuesday's local dailies to regularize and sell part of its land, registered as LR No. 8784 (900 acres).

The notice followed an agreement with the occupants of this specific land to pay for the parcels they occupy and withdraw the cases they had taken to court.

"The process for regularization began in 2021 and negotiations and mapping exercises have been ongoing. The Company firmly reiterates that LR No. 10424 has never been sold to Aimi Ma Lukenya Society or any other group. Any claim of ownership by any group or individual is null and void," the company said in a statement.