Kihika fails to avail title deed for War Memorial Hospital land

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika when she appeared before the Senate Health Committee at Parliament on May 17, 2024, over the closure of Nakuru War Memorial Hospital and transfer of patients to Nakuru Provincial General Hospital. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nakuru county government failed to present a title deed to the Senate showing it owns the 25-acre land in Milimani estate, where War Memorial Hospital stands.

Governor Susan Kihika appeared before the Senate on May 17, after she was summoned following the closure of the hospital that has been operating since 1921.

Kihika was to submit documents including the title deed of the hospital land and justify why the county government forcefully took over the facility on January 23, 2024.

In a 17-paged response to the Senate seen by The Standard, the governor said the county took over the hospital after the lease expired in March 2021.

Kihika claimed that the hospital management allegedly forged documents that saw the hospital lease extended for 50 years from March 1, 2021.

“As per the Constitution under devolution, as soon as the lease expired, the land ownership returned to the county government,” she submitted.

Under Article 61 of the Constitution, all public land belongs to the people and individuals and companies can own public land under leasehold ownership.

War Memorial Hospital management produced the original title of 1993 and the renewed lease of 2021 as evidence of ownership.

Kihika also submitted that under devolution, her administration has the power to enter any hospital within the county.

However, under the 4th Schedule, it is only the County Health Facilities and Pharmacies that are devolved and not private hospitals.

Kihika claimed that the takeover was meant to defend constitutional rights and it was peaceful. However, evidence on the ground documented by The Standard tells another tale.

The governor failed to explain why the raid on the hospital happened at night.

War Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Patricia Musale provided photos and videos of the raid that happened at 3 am on January 23.

The Standard reporter was also present during the raid and witnessed how CCTV cameras were vandalised and patients and staff forced out.

Despite several court orders directing the hospital to be reopened, the governor and the County Police Commander Samuel Ndanyi delayed the reopening.

Ndanyi succumbed to pressure and handed over the hospital on February 1, but when he left with the police, goons who had camped at the gate stormed the hospital and chased away staff.

Kihika and Ndanyi are facing contempt of court cases in the Environment and Land Court in Nyandarua about the orders that have never been vacated.

Kihika called on the Senate to tame the courts claiming that they have been unfair to her.

“We implore the Senate to weigh in on this issue to ensure sanity is maintained and courts are measured in issuing orders that have consequential effects on functions of the county,” she said.

The governor and Musale appeared following a letter dated February 12, 2024, requesting a statement on the state of healthcare in Nakuru county.

Another letter dated February 20, sought a statement and explanation following the closure of War Memorial Hospital.

Two cases have been filed in court.

In one case, three hospital directors; Dr Simon Mwangi, Roger Joslyn and Malcolm Bell and two land officials have been charged with fraud, forgery and abuse of office that saw the hospital land lease renewed.

In the other case, the hospital management has sued the county government over ownership of the hospital land.