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Nairobi County to block Sh2.5b standard gauge railway payout to city land ‘owners’

By Kamau Muthoni | August 7th 2015

The Nairobi County government has moved to court to stop the State from paying Sh2.5 billion to people occupying Embakasi land earmarked for the construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR).

In papers filed at the High Court registry, the county wants the court to bar the State from paying the Embakasi residents, claiming the land along the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport flight path and that borders Kenya Railways Marshalling Yard is public property illegally occupied by squatters.

The Evans Kidero-led government sued the National Lands Commission, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), the Chief Land Registrar and Attorney General Githu Muigai, claiming a stake on the land.

The county, through its lawyer Titus Koceyo, stated it was the valid holder of the land in question since 1958, when the then Government conferred its ownership to the defunct City Council of Nairobi.

"The petitioner states that around May 6, 1958, the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya (now Government of Kenya) formally issued an allotment letter of the subject property to the petitioner. The subject land henceforth ceased being alienated Government land but a public land vested in Nairobi City County," the petition read.

The lawyer further claimed the land known as Embakasi Township Reserve was quickly subdivided by fraudsters last year and occupants were issued with fake title deeds in order to swindle the taxpayers.

The county accused the Muhammad Swazuri-led commission of colluding with the fraudsters and failing to address the issues raised in several letters written in respect to the titles.

Land barons

NLC is accused of having side-lined county officials when it initially made the announcement through the local dailies. Koceyo poked holes in the announcement, saying the commission never listed the holders of the titles.

"The petitioner states that when it became apparent there was a huge compensation for the SGR construction, land barons, fraudsters and some busybodies made fake title deeds upon a purported subdivision of the suit land and lodges claimed for compensation from the first and second respondents (NLC and KRC)," said the lawyer.

The squatters are said to have invaded the land in the 1960s but their numbers increased in the early 1990s.

The lawyer said the Government, through the defunct Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Administration and the county's predecessor had struck a deal in 2009 to have them settled in the land.

The deliberations, according to the lawyer, resulted in the squatters being issued with allotment letters. He however maintained the land was neither subdivided nor allocated to any of them.

The county further claimed NLC never responded to letters sent out on June 8 and July 9 this year, requesting perusal of the titles.

"The first respondent (NLC) has colluded with the illegal title holders to deprive it of its property and to the detriment of the Nairobi County residents," Kecoyo said, adding that NLC had already written to KRC and the AG in a bid to commence the compensation process. "The process of paying out the impugned Sh2,502,914,500.30 from the public funds has started in circumstances which are suspect and smacks of fraud," he said.

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