State wins Thika Superhighway case

Attorney General Paul Kihara

The Government has won a multi-million shillings dispute with a company that claimed ownership of a public parking space in Nairobi.

The suit, which was filed by Attorney General Paul Kihara, through State counsel Allan Kamau, against Electrical Options Limited, revealed the methods used by some traders in collusion with the ministry of lands’ officials to acquire titles for space reserved for expansion of the Thika Superhighway.

According to the State, the businessmen hurriedly acquired land titles and presented them to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to claim millions of shillings that had been set aside for compensation.

“It was discovered that the land they were claiming was created from a road reserve and a public property in order to unfairly benefit from public resources. Their title was deleted from records as the Government could not acquire what was already a public land,” said Kamau.

Electrical Options Limited was seeking Sh170 million as compensation for the half-acre parking at the junction of Limuru and Murang’a road in Ngara area along Thika Superhighway, but Justice Elijah Obaga dismissed the claim on grounds that they had grabbed the public land.

“To order compensation to the company will amount to rewarding impunity and giving a seal of approval to illegal acquisition of public land. No court of law can offer compensation for a property irregularly acquired and the person seeking to benefit knows he is lying,” ruled Obaga. Justice Obaga agreed with the State, ruling that the deep plan of the entire Ngara area showed that there was no land in the area, which could be allocated to a private entity.

He added that whoever has passed through that place would wonder how a public land with a bus terminus could be occupied by a private developer. He also said it is clear the allocation of the land to the company was irregular and unlawful.

In their defence, the company claimed it was allotted the land in December 1998 and paid the required fees to construct a petrol station, but that it did not have funds to immediately develop the property.

Justice Obaga, however, dismissed the claims, ruling that the company’s officials were aware they were pursuing an illegal claim as it emerged that their hope was to make a quick buck by selling the land or using it to acquire public money through compensation.