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University land dispute: Step up or step out, President Uhuru warns

President Uhuru Kenyatta during 100th International Co-operatives Day celebrations at KICC, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has come out guns blazing over an ongoing land ownership tussle between Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.

The Head of State said the 1,000-acre piece of land at the centre of the dispute was not individual property, but that of Kenyans, who have entrusted persons in leadership to take care of it.

“Property whether State House (which I will be leaving in a few weeks) or a hospital, a university like this is the property of Kenyans held in trust. You are just a caretaker,” Kenyatta said while launching the ultra-modern Cath Lab at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) on Saturday.

He warned that officials involved in the dispute shall be dealt with “swiftly and effectively.”

“I will go home with them in three weeks,” Kenyatta said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta (second left) and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus (second right) at the launch of the WHO logistics hub at KU. [PSCU]

On July 6, The Standard reported that the tussle was triggered by a decision by KUTRRH to reportedly hive off 200 acres of the disputed land to construct World Health Organisation (WHO) offices. WHO is currently housed within the precincts of the referral hospital.

Kenyatta University (KU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina said that the university was opposed to the project after KUTRRH failed to consult them over the use of the 200 acres.

According to Prof Wainaina, the land was set aside for the construction of a children’s hospital after KUTRRH was made a parastatal.

“We know the government owns the land but everyone knows KU got the individual title deed of the land. Even if it’s the government that wanted part of our land, the right procedure has to be followed and we were supposed to be communicated to,” Prof Wainaina said.

The President on Saturday launched an ultra-modern catheterization laboratory at KUTRRH, the second such facility in Kenya.

According to the president, the cath lab, as is commonly referred to, is equipped with state-of-the-art imaging facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Kenyatta also commissioned the WHO regional logistics hub for emergency operations. In attendance was WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.