Ex-minister John Keen in another major land deal

Former minister John Keen could be a big beneficiary in the expansion of the city road network in a multi-billion shilling sale of land to the State.

National Land Commission Chairman Mohammad Swazuri said the State will acquire about 228 acres of prime land owned by companies associated with the 84-year-old former legislator. The land will be given to the Nairobi National Park as compensation for 89 acres it has lost to the Southern by-pass, on the section between Ole Sereni Hotel and Carnivore Restaurant along Lang’ata Road.

“...the NLC intends to acquire additional land parcel given below on behalf of Kenya National Highways Authority for construction of the Nairobi Southern bypass,” Mr Swazuri said in the national gazette notice on Friday. He was inviting any people with interests on the land, with registered owners as John Keen Investment Company Limited, to bring forward claims for compensation.

That sale and subsequent developments will significantly change the shape of the national park while more than making up for the loss in the area around South C Estate.

“The expected variation of the Nairobi National Park boundary shall increase the park area by annexing the additional parcel of land for conservation,” said Linus Tonui, acting director general of Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) in a separate notice.

KeNHA, the agency charged with management, development and maintenance of major roads on behalf of the State, is the buyer in the transaction estimated to be worth billions. Market rates for land could be anywhere about Sh3 million an acre. It could however be higher considering the deal has not been initiated by the seller. But this will not be the first time the park will be expanding into Keen’s land. Four years ago, Kenya Wildlife Service acquired 100 acres through the signing of Kenya’s first voluntary easement deal. Keen’s land along the Mbagathi ridge has been a natural target for the park because they are adjacent. But the park, the most visited in the country due to its proximity to the city, has lost significant portions to grabbing from private individuals, and land use conversion as is the case with the by-pass.

Annexing 89 acres

Mr Keen, a vocal defender of his Maasai community, is among the biggest landowners just outside the city. The octogenarian born to a German father, served as legislator for Kajiado North for 10 years.

Earlier, KeNHA had invited Kenyans to provide written submissions concerning its plan to carve out part of Nairobi National Park for construction of 28.5 kilometres Nairobi Southern by-pass road. In a public notice last week, the Authority said it will require to annex some 89 acres of Nairobi National Park, along a distance of 4km stretching from Ole Sereni Hotel to Carnivore restaurant.

“KeNHA in consultation with Kenya Wildlife Service has identified a parcel of land adjacent to the Nairobi National Park on the Ole Kasasi adjudication section along the Mbagathi valley for purchase, acquisition and subsequent annexing to the Nairobi National Park in exchange of the land utilised by the By-pass road,” Eng Tonui said in a statement.

KeNHA is purchasing this parcel to mitigate the impact of wildlife habitat loss to be caused by the by-pass. The Authority said it has already conducted environmental impact assessment that has shown that the proposed national park land exchange will positively enhance wildlife conservation in Nairobi National Park.

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Nairobi southern by-passKenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA)Mohammad SwazuriJohn KeenNational Land Commision