The decision reached by National Land Commission to give a ruling into the Weston Hotel Land Saga left many wondering! Or did it? Imagine ruling that the property stands on a public land only for you to order the alleged owner to compensate and spare it from demolition! How was the ruling arrived at? Well, details have emerged of how the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority put up a fight to repossess the land on which Weston Hotel stands.
The hotel situated along Lang’ata Road is owned by Deputy President William Ruto.
The KCAA strongly rejected counter submissions by Weston Hotel and instead laid bare how transactions for acquisition of the land might have been rushed to defeat public interest.
The KCAA revealed how after the hurried transactions went through, crucial documents were destroyed in a deliberate move to conceal the paper trail.
In a shock decision, NLC last week ruled that Ruto can keep the hotel but pay the government for it.
The commission ordered a revaluation of the prime piece of land to determine the current market price to facilitate Weston to buy the land as a reimbursement to the KCAA.
In May last year, Weston Hotel was valued at Sh300 million, according to a report by Zenith Management Valuers Ltd.
According to NLC, the KCAA will then find an alternative land of the same value to build its headquarters.
“Kenya Civil Aviation Authority having been restituted to its initial position only then can the commission regularise the title to Weston hotel,” NLC said in its surprise ruling.
But KCA protested the regularisation of the acquisition of the land by Weston, insisting facts regarding the authority’s ownership of the land were crystal clear and uncontested.
During the hearing, the position that the parcel of land measuring about 0.7733 hectares (about two acres) was the property of the KCAA was strongly argued out.
According to KCAA’s legal services manager who doubles up as the acting corporation secretary, Cyril Wayong’o, the parcel belonged to the East Africa Community which collapsed in 1977.
It had been developed and was being used as storage premises for the machinery and aviation equipment of the then Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA).
Some of the annexures tabled by the KCAA before the NLC showed that the Commissioner of Lands clearly acknowledged that the records held by his office were clear that the land/site had been reserved for KCAA.
Wayong’o said KCAA enjoyed peaceful active occupation and use of the land after acquisition.
However, the peaceful enjoyment of land was disrupted in 2002.
Wayong’o said the disruption came despite the fact that the parcel held sensitive navigation equipment and spares.
The NLC, in part of its recommendations, agrees with KCAA that the land had been acquired.
The commission found out that part of the development plan No.184.108.40.206A (approved) plan No. 342 expressly said that the plan was approved in October 29,1989, seven years before the two companies who were first allottees were registered.
During the hearing, KCB lawyer Martin Muge pleaded with NLC not to revoke the title, saying any move would have ramifications for the interests of the bank.
Present during deliberations on Monday were NLC vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe, commissioners Abdulkadir Khalif, Clement Lenachuru, Emma Njogu, Rose Musyoka and Samuel Tororei.
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.
Ahmed Abdullahi who appeared for the DP told the commissioners that the DP acquired the land in 2007 for Sh10 million from Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments Limited.