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Transfer of Mariakani Estate puts City Hall role in question

By Josephat Thiong'o | Published Thu, March 1st 2018 at 10:19, Updated March 1st 2018 at 10:31 GMT +3
Defunct city council reportedly sold the Mariakani estate in South B to Lapfund.

NAIROBI, KENYA: City Hall has been asked to explain the transfer of Mariakani Estate to the Local Authorities Pension Fund in a debt swap in 2013.

The county assembly’s public accounts committee was questioning the lands and urban planning chief officer, Isaac Nyoike, on the queries of the Auditor General on the documents involved in the transfer.

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The Auditor General’s report indicated that some documents were missing signatures, some had multiple dates showing when the deal was done, and others indicated that the valuation of the property was done irregularly.  

The swap of Mariakani Estate was meant to offset a Sh2.1 billion debt owed to Lapfund by the defunct Nairobi City Council. 

“We feel that the transfer of the property was irregular because the documents are not accurate and those mentioned to have been present at the meeting authorising the swap of the property have denied being present,” stated the auditor.

According to the committee, the value of the Mariakani property at the time of the swap was Sh1.4 billion. The acting chairman and Kilimani MCA Moses Ogeto also sought to know how City Hallarrived at the decision to sell Mariakani Estate, yet there were other properties that had been evaluated in readiness for the swap.

They included Jeevanjee Bachelors quarters, Old Ngara Estate, Buru Buru Estate, New Ngara Estate and playground, Kariokor.  

“I fail to understand how Mariakani Estate was swapped, yet it was not on the list of properties to be swapped,” observed Ogeto.

Nyoike defended the transaction, saying Mariakani was the only property that had a readily available title deed at the time.

He also indicated that the decision to transfer Mariakani was arrived at during a council meeting in August 2012.

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“The list of the properties to be swapped was not limited to the specified estates, meaning we could identify any other property. It was also decided that the town clerk at the time should authorise the transfer following a consultative meeting,” said Nyoike.

The explanation only raised more questions, with the Karen MCA, David Mberia, insisted that the valuer explain why the council chose to hand over Mariakani Estate, which was valued lower than the other properties, such as Jevanjee, which was then valued at Sh1.8 billion.

“I read mischief in the transfer because one would think that they would have swapped property that was of highest value, but instead they went for one with a lower value and not among the properties listed for transfer,” added Mberia.

Lapfund has asked the tenants of Mariakani Estate Residents to pay Sh490,000 each in rent arrears accrued since 2013.

The pension scheme claimed that since taking over the property located in the South B area, tenants have continued to pay rent to City Hall and not to Lapfund.