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How NHC lost 348 acres of land in Athi River to private developers

 National Housing Corporation houses in Nairobi West. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

National Housing Corporation (NHC) lost 348 acres of prime land in Athi River in a brazen theft involving land dealers in collusion with unscrupulous officials at the Ministry of Lands.

A report by a taskforce formed to investigate land issues in Mavoko indicated that NHC lost the land and never got a title deed for another property it procured.

In July 1994, NHC was allocated 197 acres of land registered as LR. No. 25298 by the government, complete with a signed plan that had been approved by the Director of Surveys and showing the precise particulars of an already surveyed piece of land.

However, when the survey was done, it was realised that some parts had been excised and the corporation was left with only 81.9 acres.

Having lost more than half of the land, NHC paid Sh558,940 as a stand premium after it was issued with a fresh letter of allotment Ref. No. 397711/XX/II dated 23/4/1999 by the Commissioner of Lands.

But during the survey, the Commissioner of Lands noticed that part of the land had been allocated to a private developer leaving NHC with a paltry 31 acres. The Commissioner of Lands further issued a fresh allocation on September 6, 2005 Ref. No. 206313/22 and on September 9, 2005, NHC paid the Commissioner of Lands Sh330,040.

But while processing the allotment letter, it was further realised that LR No. 25298 had another letter of allotment issued to a private developer hence the processing of title of ownership to NHC was stopped.

The taskforce chaired by John Abduba formed by the Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security regarding insecurity in Athi River over land found that the Commissioner of Lands was responsible for the loss of NHC land.

A few years later in 2011, the corporation entered into a sale agreement with Agriculture Syndicate Ltd to buy 155 acres of land LR No. 10426/81 IR 126719 in Mavoko at Sh822 million, in which they paid Sh550 million in two tranches of 300 million and 250 million - leaving a balance of Sh272 million.

To facilitate the transfer of the land to NHC, Agriculture Syndicate Ltd paid land rates of Sh393,740 on January 28, 2011, to the Mavoko Municipal Council through its lawyer Harit Sheth.

A rates clearance certificate was issued on January 28, 2011, and a Transfer was done on March 8, 2011. However, while the current legal owner, Agriculture Syndicate Ltd was in the process of transferring the said parcel of land to NHC, they realised that the same was being claimed by four parties.

The four were the locals and a group of Maasai both with no documents available. Kibwezi Mining (2002) Company Ltd had a copy of title LR. No. 10426/81 IR 143032 measuring 149 acres. Another party, Richard Mwalili Mulu and Joseph Mwalili had a Certificate of Title LR No. 10426/29/3 and IR 105259 measuring 389 acres more than double the land NHC had bought.

Registrar of Companies

According to the taskforce report, it was observed that Kibwezi Mining (2002) Company Ltd did not exist in the records of the Registrar of Companies as per the letter from the Registrar of Companies Ref. CR 13-General and dated May 11, 2011.

The Chief Land Registrar in the letter Ref. IR 105259 dated 13/5/2011 while verifying the authenticity of the titles stated that the title held by Agriculture Syndicate Ltd LR No. 10426/32 IR 105259 was subdivided and resultant titles issued in the same name.

"A further subdivision was done and LR No. 10426/81 IR 126719 was registered in the name of NHC and charged to Agriculture Syndicate Ltd while LR No. 10426/82 IR 126720 remained under Agriculture Syndicate Ltd," said the report.

It further noted that the title held by Messrs Kibwezi Mining LR 10426/81 IR 1043032 was a forgery.

In its findings and recommendations, the taskforce noted that the LR No. 10426/81 of IR 126719 was genuinely registered in the name of NHC - having been transferred from Agriculture Syndicate Ltd as per the confirmation from the Chief Land Registrar's letter.

The report dismissed the claim by the locals, Maasais, Kibwezi Mining Company, Richard Mwalili Mulu and Joseph Mwalili over the same parcel of land as fraudulent and their occupation was illegal and should be evicted. The report advised NHC to complete payment of the balance amounting to Sh272 million in order to expedite the process of ownership of the said parcel of land.

Some titles owned by other private individuals were revoked by the Registrar of Lands under Gazette Notice No. 3454 dated April 1, 2010, in favour of NHC for the purpose of public utilities.

The above parcels of land were given to NHC by the Ministry of Housing after it applied for allocation of land in Mavoko Municipality for housing development. On allocation, NHC commenced construction of a factory called EPS on LR. No. 28458 at a cost of Sh578 million.

However, part of the land was also encroached and a perimeter wall put up by an unidentified person. The court awarded Abdiraham Adam Mohamad several acres, throwing NHC out once again.

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