Sh3.2 billion Ruaraka land is public property, Sonko says

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko when he appeared before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee regarding the Ruaraka land saga yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]
The Sh3.2 billion land in Nairobi’s Ruaraka that is at the centre of controversy belong to the public, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has said.

Mr Sonko yesterday told a Senate committee that despite the prime land being a property of the public, City Hall was kept in the dark over a deal that saw the Ministry of Education acquire it.

The land in question is where Drive-Inn Primary School and Ruaraka High School are situated. City businessman Francis Mburu has claimed ownership of the land where the two institutions sit on.

“Documents in our possession as a county government show the 13.5-acre piece of land does not belong to an individual,” Mr Sonko told members of the Senator Moses Kajwang’-led County Public Accounts Investment Committee.

He explained documents dating back to 1982 confirm the land is an asset of the county, and the two schools were built after part of it was surrendered by the Government to facilitate their construction as part of public utilities.

To prove his claims, the governor submitted to the committee maps together with minutes of a meeting by the defunct Nairobi City Council which oversaw the sub-division of the land.

Disputes on rise

So far, Mburu, the director of Afrison Export Import and Huelands Limited Companies who lays claim to the land registered as LR No.7879/4, has been paid Sh1.5 billion for it. His sons Justin Mburu and Mark Mburu are also co-directors of the firms.

“A cartel that worked in previous county administration worked hand in hand with Mr Mburu to execute the scheme to defraud the public their land. Since assuming office, I have suspended rogue land officials,” he said. 

Lands Executive Charles Kerich told the lawmakers that disputes over land in the city county are in the rise, noting the issue has reached endemic levels.

“The issue of land grabbing in Nairobi has existed for quite a long time and is fast turning out to be a crisis . As an administration, we have declared that we will not tolerate the vice at all,” said Mr Kerich.

He said they get numerous complaints regarding land issues daily.

“We strive to ensure we serve the people of Nairobi in best and just way as possible,” said Kerich. 

Two weeks ago, Mr Mburu while appearing before the Senate’s County Public Accounts and Investments Committee, told legislators he was ready to refund money already paid to him in exchange for his land.

State agencies

He cited frustration by State agencies in seeking compensation, saying he could refund the Sh1.5 billion he was paid and proceed to demolish all the structures on the land, including the two schools.

This was after the committee said it had ordered the National Treasury not to make a further payment of Sh1.7 billion.

Mburu told senators he was considering going to court to seek Sh6 billion compensation in rent arrears for “illegal structures” on the land.

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