Author: PAUL OGEMBA
AfricaPress-Kenya: The government has accused a private developer of trying to grab land where the Michuki Memorial Park stands by launching a fake claim in court.
Responding to a suit by Uaso Nyarobe Waterfront Ltd, the private developer, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko dismissed it as a faceless entity operating as a ‘ghost company’. Mr Tobiko stressed that the company was formed with the sole goal of taking up the park.
Tobiko said the company was non-existent in 2008 when the government started the process of reclaiming the land and only surfaced to claim ownership a few months before the park was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on August 14.
“Rehabilitation of the park started in full glare of the public and had been ongoing for more than 12 years. If the company had a genuine claim to the land then it would not have waited for all these years to make it,” said Tobiko.
Uaso Nyarobe Waterfront Ltd last month sued the government for trespassing onto the land and forcibly taking it over. The company seeks Sh12 billion as compensation for loss of the property.
It wants the Ministry of Environment cited for trespass and Tobiko held personally liable for the seizure of the land. The firm said it acquired the land in 1999 and had plans to develop an urban village with 2,500 modern kiosks, 600 affordable housing units, office blocks, retailer shops, an amphitheatre and parking area for 3,300 vehicles.
But in a sworn affidavit, Tobiko has dismissed the developer’s assertions saying the company lied that it received government approvals to develop the land.
Tobiko swore that the government has spent more than Sh1 billion in reclaiming and refurbishing the park and wondered why the company would wait until the end of all that process to lay claim.
He further submitted that prior to 2008, the land was left unattended and used as a dumpsite which was home to numerous paper vendors, garbage recyclers, street families and a hide out for criminal gangs before they were flushed out to create room for the park.
He argued that if indeed the company owned the land, it could have not allowed anyone to trespass for all those years. “The property falls within the definition of a riparian reserve, which is therefore public land and is unavailable for allocation and private use,” said Tobiko.
To support its claims, the government has brought in Julius Wanjau, a city resident who said he has been working around that area since 2001 and has never heard of Uaso Nyarobe Waterfront Ltd.
State counsel Allan Kamau described the developer’s claims as lies.
Mr Kamau said the company cannot claim ownership since at any rate, the government has been in quiet possession of the land for more than 12 years which makes it the rightful owner by adverse