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 Star yesterday obtained the full reports giving a blow by blow account of the KCAA’s submission to the National Land Commission, revealing how the land agency could have legitimised fraudulent acquisition of public land.
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.126.96.36.199A (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.
Priority and Monene were the first allottees.
Wayong’o said it was previously not necessary to have land title documents for land owned by government agencies such as public schools, hospitals and road reserves.
“In fact, it was well known where such public utilities were located and the only form of securing the land was by fencing, active use of it and reservation of the same in the records at the Ministry of Lands. This is the case in respect of this parcel of land,”KCAA said.
NLC in its recommendations said they could not determine if the process of land allocation was illegal, null and void as none of the parties had presented evidence before it.
The commission, however, went ahead, to confirm that the parcel of land belonged to KCAA.
Further, NLC in its own admission found out that the letter of allotment issued to Priority and Monene was irregular and that Weston hotel are bona fide purchaser without any defect in the title.
While admitting that KCAA had lost an important asset, NLC further heaps blame on the aviation regulator for vacating the land without first finding out if an alternative was there for them.
Wayong’o, according to the report, told NLC that a number of Public officers who worked for DCA were in October 2002 allocated special assignment to transfer DCA’s Central Stores then located on the property.
At that time,the property had already been allocated in favour of Priority Limited and Monene Investments Limited by Letter of Allotment.
Wayong’o said the movement of their stores was a ploy to allow vacant possession of the property by Priority Limited and Monene Investments Limited.
“It’s also clear that the earlier attempts by the Commissioner of Lands to allocate this land to other parties had been effected and the same Commissioner of Lands facilitated the vacation of the land to facilitate the occupation by Priority Limited and Monene Investments Limited,”he said.
Wayong’o said there was no record availed or tabled by the those claiming land to show that DCA, KCAA Management or the Board actively participated by authorizing, conniving to the allocation or alienation of Land.
KCAA wanted to build its Headquarters in the piece of land.
The authority is housed in Aviation House within Kenya Airports Authority land at JKIA.
The five-storey building is on land leased from KAA.
However, NLC questioned the need for another headquarters saying “why do they need two headquarters.
KCAA however says it is a requirement of International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) that the Regulatory wing of the KCAA needs to be separated from the Services wing.
“The land to construct the headquarters of the Air Navigation Services wing is land parcel currently is being sought to be recovered from the illegal allottees,”KCAA said.
The aviation body also raised concerns about the proximity of the hotel to Wilson Airport, saying its presence poses hazard to air traffic.
NLC in its ruling argued that the concerns were not true as a KCAA building of the same nature and location could be as dangerous.
The Commission instead heaped the blame on the then commissioner of land Sammy Mwaita, ministry of land saying “they failed to act on the irregular allocation of the parcel.