Residents win big as NLC, county told to pay Sh416m for Ndakaini

A section of the Ndakaini Dam in Murang'a County. [File, Standard]

The court has ordered the National Lands Commission and Nairobi City County to pay more than Sh461 million for the land hived off to build Ndakaini dam.

Besides the Sh113 million principal amount, NLC and the county government will pay a 12 per cent interest rate for the 34 years they had gone silent on the payment.

“The upshot of the foregoing analysis is my finding that the petitioners have made out a case of violations of their right to a prompt and full payment of compensation for their parcels compulsorily acquired for the construction of the Ndakaini Dam,” ruled Justice Anne Omollo of the Environment and Lands Court. 

The case was filed by a group led by Crispus Mwangi on behalf of 109 Murang’s residents. They claimed since 1989 when the commissioner of lands initiated the process of compulsorily acquiring land for Ndakaini dam, they have not been paid a penny.

The group had initially sued the government in 1989. However, on July 6, 1990, they brokered a deal. The court heard that the law firm that represented them, Gibson Kamau Kuria and co advocates was paid Sh932, 525 from the amounts but they were left out.

Mwangi was the star witness in the case. He said the project was fully funded by the Word Bank, hence, the money ought to have been released. 

They went back to court in 2018 and the court ordered that they be paid Sh3.4 million plus interest. Unfortunately, the office of the commissioner of lands had been abolished before the amount was paid.

In the case, they argued that the government simply grabbed their land as it built the dam without paying them. They asserted that despite numerous meetings, demands and follow-ups, NLC and the county never honoured part of their bargain.

NLC opposed the case. Its legal affairs and disputes resolutions director Brian Ikol explained that it was impossible to pay as the commissioner of lands never handed Ndakaini as one of the incomplete projects.

He said NLC only facilitates the acquisition of land and, hence, could only pay if the money is transmitted from either the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, the Nairobi City County, Athi Water and Services Board as well as Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company.

He asserted that from the documents filed in court, there was evidence no money was remitted to NLC. He also said the correspondence did not indicate that the government had refused to pay.

NLC distanced itself from the Ndakaini project just as Nairobi County, which stated that it was unaware that landowners were not paid.