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Anti-graft unit to reclaim port land

COUNTIES
By By WILLIS OKETCH | Mar 6th 2014 | 3 min read

By WILLIS OKETCH

Kenya: The anti-graft agency has commenced legal proceedings to repossess a parcel of land strategic to the security of the Mombasa Port that was grabbed six years ago.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has sued a private company, Chembe Holdings, it has accused of grabbing part of Mombasa Port.

Authorities say the grabbed parcel, which is behind the Port Police Station, is an integral part of the Mombasa Integrated Security System, and is used by Kenya Port Authority as a security buffer zone.

EACC says Chembe Holdings grabbed the entrance of the Port at gates 9 and 10 using false documents in 2008 for which suspects have already been charged and now the anti-graft agency wants the plot returned to the parastatal.

A derelict building stand on the plot and a part of it was condemned by the KPA when construction of the two gates started in the mid 1980s.

Before the building was condemned in the early 1990s, it served as an office block hosting a port pass installation. I

In 1996, KPA leased the plot to a private firm Joles Investment Company who renovated the building and used it for clearing and forwarding and 2008, a separate company Musk Deer laid claim to the plot claiming the Kenya government had allocated it to them.

Joles Investment Company went to court to challenge Musk Deer’s claim but abandoned the case without explanation and unknown people demolished the structures on the plot. Musk Deer also disappeared without explanation.

Towards the end of 2008, KPA wrote to the ministry of Lands and the anti-corruption agencies and other ministries disclosing the alleged grabbing.

Charged with forgery

In  March 2010, the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission arrested two people over the grabbing and charged them with forgery.

Yesterday the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Principal Legal Officer Michael Sangoro told Justice Samuel Mukhunya at the High Court in Mombasa that the entrance of the Port at Gate 9 and 10 was grabbed by Chembe Holdings.

Sangoro who was the first witness in the case brought by EACC to repossess the grabbed land told  the court in his evidence led by EACC’s lawyer Philip Kagucia that KPA inherited the disputed property from the defunct East Africa Habours Corporation after the collapse of East African Community in 1978.

Sangoro said in 2001, Ministry of Transport  formalised the ownership by vesting all properties of the defunct EAC in KPA vide legal Notice 160 of 2001.

All along KPA has been using the said property within the meaning of transitional clause of KPA Act and leased  out the block to Joles Investment Company.

Sangoro said  the company in question wrote to KPA in March 2008 that although they had leased the plot to them, some individuals were asking them to vacate the premises as they had acquired it from the Government. He said Joles Investment went to court seeking orders to stop Musk Deer Company from interfering with the property.

Sangoro told the court that after sometimes the firm withdrew the case against the  Musk Deer Company  in unclear circumstances while the suit was still pending.

He said after the company withdrew the suit, KPA lodged complaint with the Commissioner of Land and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission which launched investigation leading to the arrest of  Abbas Yusuf Michuki and Daniel Njoroge Kahiko.

The case resumes on March 23 when Sangoro will be cross examined.

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