A court in Nairobi ruled that the government had attempted to shortchange a private firm in a botched purchase deal.
Documents presented before the court detailed that the firm, Springdew Properties sold the land to the government in 2009 at Ksh 29 million.
The land was to be reserved for the expansion of Thika Road and construction of the terminus and a road interchange.
In 2015, the company refunded the money and proceeded with building a mall worth Ksh 25 million. However, in 2017, the firm learnt that the land was gazetted in the Kenya Gazette as a road reserve.
The Ministry of Lands had notified the mall that it was private property and later degazetted it arguing that it was public land, forcing the aggrieved firm to file a lawsuit.
Former National Lands Commission (NLC) officials were blamed for gazetting the contested property as private property rather than public land. NLC’s lawyer added that the former employees did not follow the right procedure adding that the mistake prompted the amendment which led to a court battle.
Lady Justice Lucy Gacheru ruled that the government would have to compensate Springdew before it demolished the multi-million mall to build a bus terminus.
This meant that the Lands Ministry would pay nearly triple the money forked out in 2009 as the price of land has risen in 2021, with an acre at the contested location currently costing Ksh 40 million.
“It is the court’s considered view that the petitioner, having exercised its preemptive rights and having reimbursed the compensation paid to it fully, validly reacquired the said land as it had not been utilised for the purpose it was intended for by the time it sought to exercise its rights.
“Therefore the petitioner cannot be blamed for the misgivings of NLC who has an obligation to efficiently and effectively conduct its duties,” Gacheru added.
In December 2020, officers from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) were reportedly deployed at the Ministry of Lands to commence a digitization programme and streamline operations.
It was reported that the digitisation programme was unveiled to eliminate the notorious fraud and forgery of documents that is rampant at Ardhi House. President Uhuru Kenyatta has numerously reiterated that the military is efficient, operate under a tight budget and are anti-corruption crusaders.