County wins safari lodge lease court case

A section of Maralal Safari Lodge. [File, Standard]

A firm contracted to run Maralal Safari Lodge has lost a Sh44 million battle against the Samburu County Government.

Justice Yuvinalis Angima found that the deal inked between Africality CIO and Samburu County Government in 2014 was not binding and therefore the firm could not seek compensation for renovations done to the hotel.

"The court is thus of the opinion that there was no lease or legally binding agreement between parties over the lodge," said justice Ngima adding that the firm spent its own money when there was no proper lease process in place.

He said the county could not be held liable for its actions.

According to the judge, Samburu County was entitled to repossess the hotel before the conclusion of the 10 year-lease as there was no evidence that the procurement law was followed.

"It is common ground that the defendant (Samburu County) is a State organ whose procurement and disposal process were subject to the Public Procurement Law. There is no evidence on record to demonstrate that there was compliance with the applicable legal regime under the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 which was then in force in 2014," said Justice Angima.

At the same time, the judge said that the renovations done by the firm were out of a 'gentleman' understanding when it was running the hotel.

"The upshot of the foregoing is that the court finds and holds that the plaintiff (Africality) has failed to prove its claim against the Defendant to the required standard.

Accordingly, the plaintiff's suit is hereby dismissed with no order as to costs," he said.

Africality told the court that it leased the hotel within the Maralal Wildlife Sanctuary for a period of 10 years in 2014.

However, after a year, Samburu County kicked it out.

Aggrieved, Africality filed a case seeking Sh44 million as special damages and general damages for wrongful eviction.

The county denied that it had leased the hotel to Africality, saying the hotelier had taken over the lodge and its actions amounted to trespass.

Samburu County contended that there was no agreement as the trust deed has not been registered and denied any knowledge of special damages.