The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and former Commissioner for Lands Sammy Mwaita are to blame for the illegal acquisition of the Weston Hotel land in Lang’ata.
In its verdict on the ownership dispute pitting the aviation agency against the hotel, the National Land Commission accused Mwaita and the KCAA of watching as the prime parcel was irregularly acquired.
The Star has obtained a copy of the full report. The former Lands Commissioner, KCAA and the ministry of Lands slept on the job, leaving fraudsters to grab public land, the NLC says.
The land on which the five-storey Weston Hotel stands is along Lang’ata Road next to Lang’ata Primary School.
However, the NLC in its report after months of investigations into the ownership of the 0.7733ha parcel did not recommend sanctions against public officers implicated in the illegal acquisition.
Senior government officials involved in the illegal deal will bear no responsibility for the flawed process.
The NLC established the land belonged to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. The commission says KCAA lost an important asset. The authority’s decision to relocate from the land was an act of negligence that facilitated grabbing.
“The management of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority then is also to be blamed for vacating the subject parcel without establishing if the alternative land was available for allocation,” the NLC concludes in its final report.
While making submissions before the NLC on the dispute, KCAA said it owned the prime parcel and enjoyed peaceful occupation until 2002.
The land had been developed and was being used as premises for equipment storage for the defunct Directorate of Civil Aviation.
However, it was the decision of the KCAA to have DCA officers relocated in October 2002 for special assignment that opened the window for illegal possession of the land.
The commission said that the initial allocation of the land to Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments Ltd as the first allottees was illegal.
But the commission legitimised the transfer of ownership of the land from the two companies to Weston Hotel, owned by Deputy President William Ruto.
The KCAA has protested the decision by the NLC as legitimising fraud but has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision giving Ruto legal ownership of the land. Appearing for Weston Hotel, lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi told the land commission that the DP acquired the parcel in 2007 for Sh10 million from Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments Ltd.
However, the commission opened the window for the public to get value for the land after it ordered that the parcel be evaluated afresh to determine its market value so that the DP can pay the money to KCAA.
“The land at the time of valuation was undervalued. Weston Hotel are bona fide purchasers without a notice of any defect in the title,” NLC report says.
In May last year, the Weston Hotel was valued at Sh300 million, according to a report by Zenith Management Valuers Ltd. The value must have risen due to the skyrocketing property prices in Nairobi.
On June 29, 1999, then Commissioner of Lands Sammy Mwaita wrote to the Directorate of Civil Aviation, indicating he had received an application from a church group that wanted to build a church on the site. On July 8, 1999, the Directorate of Civil Aviation objected and told Mwaita it had plans for the land, so it could not be allocated to third parties.
However, the land was later in 2002 allocated to Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments and an allotment letter issued.
Mwaitha is the immediate former MP Baringo Central.