KICC boss says efforts to register Sh2b land blocked by court cases

KICC CEO Nana Gecaga before the Public Investments Committee (PIC) at Trade Mark in Nairobi for the consideration of the institution's a audited accounts on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 [David Njaaga, Standard]

The ownership of the land on which Nairobi's iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) building remains uncertain as the parcel of land has no legal owners.

It emerged during a parliamentary committee probe that the ownership of the land where the building stands cannot be recognized making it impossible for its management to finalize the papers of its acquisition.

During the revelation yesterday, KICC Chief Executive Officer Nana Gecaga appearing before Public Investment Committee (PIC) argued that it has become close to impossible to claim its ownership as there are numerous pending cases in court by several individuals who are also laying claim of ownership.

According to Ms Gecaga, the management has done everything but is close to giving up on acquiring its title deed.

"We have tried everything we can including seeking legal redress to no success. We have reached a deadlock," she said.

She also told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir that the title deed for the 28-storey tower block had been registered under the National Treasury in trust for the ministry of Tourism, the National Lands Commission (NLC), the former ruling party Kanu and a Mr Amstrong Kasuku who are claiming its ownership.

She said that Mr Kasuku has since moved to court claiming ownership of the land where the Garden Square restaurant sits and in his submissions, he claims that he was allocated the piece of land by late President Daniel Moi in the early 90s.

The Auditor General (AG) Nancy Gathungu's report for 2018/19, it states that the parcel is not owned by the State Corporation that runs the complex.

Gathungu says the title deed of the conference center is not registered in the name of KICC, which is a State Corporation under the Tourism ministry.

“It has also been noted that the land in which Kenyatta International Convention Centre building stands is not registered in the name of the Corporation although its value has been included in the financial statements,” the report reads in part.

On his part, Ruaraka MP T. J Kajwang said he failed to understand why certain individuals are claiming ownership of the land yet there was no written documentation as evidence of possession.

But the KICC boss, said the management was ready to work with parliament so that the land is handed over to the rightful owner.

“We also welcome the assistance offered by Parliament to have the matter resolved,” she said.

The Auditor's report also states that the identity of the entity in whose name the title deed of the land, which is valued at Sh2.29 billion, is registered has not been revealed in the 2018/19 report.

The KICC land dispute has been on for the last two decades after Kanu was kicked out of KICC in 2013 through what then Tourism and Information minister Raphael Tuju termed an Executive Order.

The building was alleged to be the property of Kanu until former President Mwai Kibaki’s Narc coalition party swept to power and forcibly wrestled it away from the party in 2003. It has since become a leading venue for regional conferences.

The political party however still maintained in its list properties as one of its assets in documents filed with the Registrar of Political Parties.

Commissioned 54 years ago, KICC has grown to be Africa’s premier destination for conferences and tourism exhibitions which was turned into a parastatal under the Ministry of Tourism and refurbished.

It hosts several government offices, including those of Members of Parliament (MPs).

In fresh revelations by the auditor general, it was also noted that the building had pending bills worth Sh 930 million as at 30th June 2019 that was not approved by the pending bill's committee.

Other concerns raised by Gathungu include the under-collection of revenue and lack of including in its financial statements the parking area as part of its land.

She also noted that the State Corporation managing KICC had not included the courtyard on which Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta’s monument stands.

“As previously reported the property, plant, and equipment balance of sh 4 billion as of 30th June 2019 includes the value of land estimated at sh 1 billion. However the latter balance excludes sh 1 billion commonly referred to as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) parking area…” the report reads.

She added,“Further, the land on which Garden Square Restaurant stands is in dispute between KICC and the County Government of Nairobi."

The auditor says that despite a letter from the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to the Lands Cabinet Secretary clarifying that the land in dispute had since been gazetted as a national monument and a part of KICC, the management had not acquired a title deed.

“In addition, the Cabinet Secretary was directed to urgently issue ownership documents to the corporation. The above notwithstanding, management has not availed any proof that such title documents have been acquired,” the audit report says.

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