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How Sh1.5b Kenya Railways land in Shimanzi was grabbed

NEWS
By Vincent Achuka | August 4th 2018
Kibarani residents with jerricans of water fetched from a burst pipe along the Makupa Causeway on August 02, 2018 [Gideon Maundu, Standard].

A multi-agency team is investigating howtwo prime ocean front parcels of landbelonging to Kenya Railways at the Shimanzi port in Mombasa ended up in private hands.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the National Land Commission (NLC), Survey of Kenya and the Director of Criminal Investigations suspect a lease document was forged using a false order from President Mwai Kibaki to steal the multi-million shilling property three weeks to the March 4, 2013 General Election.

Repossession order

The new investigation comes in the wake of an order by President Uhuru Kenyatta for the repossession of public land at Kibarani, also in the coastal city, whose reclamation has already started.

Officials from the County Government of Mombasa are also being investigated on how and why they gave approvals for construction on a piece of land whose records have disappeared from Ardhi House.

One of the pieces of land has already been developed while the other, which was sold for Sh58 million, is in the process of being transformed into a grain handling facility. Kenya Railways has been trying to get back the 4.8 acre piece of land since the beginning of the year without success. The other piece of land measuring 1.5 acres has already been developed by M Tech Building Works who sold the second piece to Gold Hazel Ltd on November 14, 2014. 

The value of  both the parcels is estimated at Sh 1.5 billion shillings.

Documents from the Lands ministry, which are part of materials the detectives are studying, point to a possible collusion between individuals and top ministry officials to transfer the land.

The Shimanzi area is preferred for off-loading of fuel products and handles 10 per cent of Kenya’s oil imports. It can take in a 30,000 tonne ship and its products can be evacuated by both rail and road. Kipevu, situated on the mainland Port Reitz, handles 90 per cent of oil imports, some of which head to landlocked countries such as Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi.

In a well-orchestrated scheme that took place over a span of three years from 2011, individuals created an impression that Kenya Railways had surrendered its land in Shimanzi to the Government as a condition for the issuance of leases.

They then forged a certificate of lease which was used to obtain forged titles before selling the property. The fake lease certificate was signed by a forged signature belonging to advocate Sammy Ruwa on March 15, 2011. The grabbers also created the impression that the order to lease the land had been given by President Kibaki.

“The President of the Republic of Kenya on behalf of the Government of Kenya in consideration of the sum of Sh810,000 hereby leases to Mtech Building Works, a limited liability company hereinafter called the lessee,” reads the forged lease certificate.

Dates variations

In the lease certificate being investigated, M-Tech’s directors are listed as Hussein Hamisi and Salim Amin. Gold Hazel’s directors are listed as Mohamed Islam and Ali Islam Ali.

An investigation report seen by Saturday Standard shows questionable variations of dates, typing errors, forgeries of signatures and lack of clarity on when the landchanged hands from Kenya Railways -- if ever it did.

“The title issued is also a Government lease whilst according to the records we have encountered, the land in question also belongs to Kenya Railways,” says the investigation report. “There was never a surrender of the land from Kenya Railwaysto the Government of Kenya. The title should be a sub-lease from KenyaRailways. Hence the title is a forgery designed to illegally grab the land.”

The investigation report has called for the prosecution of Hamisi and Amin for trespassing on the property. Their whereabouts are however not known and they are not reachable on their mobile phones.

The County Government of Mombasa could have a difficult time explaining how it gave approvals for construction on a piece of landof which it has no records of payment of rates.

“Search at the County of Mombasa for the cards used to open a file for any of the registered property for the purpose of validation of rates have not been found. It will be interesting if the rates statement was uploaded and the owners pay rates,” says the investigation report. “If this cannot be established, then how did the owners get their building plan for the construction approved by the physical planning department at the county government?”

This act of land grabbing was uncovered in January by an anonymous whistle blower who wrote to the DPP. Why it took a whistle blower to raise the matter and not KenyaRailways who are the original custodians of the land is question yet to be answered.

Kenya Railways only responded to the DPP when asked about the ownership of the land. “This is to confirm that the above mentioned properties fall within a railwayreserve area as highlighted. KenyaRailways has no record of the area ever being surrendered to Government,” KenyaRailways Managing Director Atanas Maina wrote to the DPP on February 14.

 

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