By: ERIC WAINAINA
Nairobi and Kiambu counties have in the recent past experienced unprecedented development, making it almost impossible to find huge chunks of land.
But this is not the case at Kamiti after intrigues “imposed a caveat” on a prime 100-acre parcel of land. Dilapidated houses, open fields and thickets is the state of this land bordering the first growing Membley Ruiru and Kenyatta University despite the property value having raised to over Sh60 million per acre.
No developer is welcome here and the owners, who acquired the land in the 1970s, cannot build permanent structures as they do not have documents to enable them acquire approvals.
Twenty one families were allocated the now prime land by President Jomo Kenyatta as a compensation for their land at Njiru in 1972.
Mzee Kenyatta owned neighbouring land and developed an interest on the land they lived on in Njiru, they said. This resulted in the then President offering them the land in Kamiti for relocation.
The beneficiaries were give a joint title deed No 13166 that is registered under Njiru Farmers Company, with 21 people have been listed as the beneficiaries on behalf of the families.
According some of them, they were to share the land equally so as to ensure each family was treated fairly. But their differences have scuttled any attempts to agree on the land subdivision as well as processing of individual title deeds.
A Sh34.5 million compensation from the government for a five acre portion of the land for the construction of a section of the Northern bypass has been withheld by the Lands ministry for the past five years.
Ms Dorcas Wanjiku, one of the five surviving beneficiaries said they were moved to the land by trucks at around 3am and they decided to name their new home Saa Mbaya (wrong hours).
In Njiru, she said they had acquired the land from a repatriate in shares depending on contribution but the first President directive which was reflected in the title deed was that they were to share the 100 acres equally irrespective on the shares one had in the previous land.
“When we came, we took one acre each to put up houses and used a section of the land to farm while the other which is not fertile remained idle pending the subdivision and processing of title deeds,” Mrs Wanjiku said.
Mrs Wanjiku the subdivision was not done equally but in reference of the number of shares each owned in the Njiru land.
This prompted those who were unhappy with the subdivision to move to court in 1983 and successfully challenge the decison, a ruling was delivered in 2005.
Mr David Kibue said the court’s interpretation was that the ‘common sharing’ meant that each of the families was to get a portion from each section of the land depending on the landscape to ensure that no family was disadvantaged.
With the ruling, the families picked a new committee which comprised of their offspring to spearhead the afresh the subdivision exercise as some of the original members were too old and while others had already died.
Two years before the ruling was done, the Kenya Power company wanted to mount a power grid which cut through the land, occupying seven acres.
Sh5.6 million was paid as compensation but Mr Kibue said they only accessed Sh2.6 million which was then shared among all the 21 families.
They would later sell three acres to fund the fresh subdivision exercise since they did not have the required amount.
“The sale was trust based since we could not have processed the title deed for the buyer until we were through with the subdivision process,” said Mr Kibue.
The fresh subdivision was done in 2007, but according to Mr Kibue, some members colluded with the newly formed committee to have the subdivision — which was presided by the Provincial Administration — done in blocks.
This meant the common sharing as per the ruling was faulted since even though the acreage was equal some families got a raw deal.
“It appears that some people were selfish and wanted to allocate themselves the better part of the the land and this was subsequently challenged in court since efforts to address the issues amicably have failed,” Mr Gabriel Njoroge said.
In 2010, five acres were earmarked as part of the area to be taken up by the Northern bypass and after a valuation was done, it was agreed that Sh35 million would be paid to the residents.
According to a gazette notice dated March 2, 2010, the money was to be paid to the mother title (of the 21 families) since the subdivision had not been done. Unknown the them, this was the beginning of yet another huddle in their quest to have uniform subdivision and a beginning of yet more intrigues on how the money would be shared.
Some wanted the money be shared among the 21 families urging that the land was still common since it had not been subdivided but while those whose land had been earmarkedwanted to share the compensation money among themselves.
“The title deed is still common meaning it belongs to all of us and therefore we should share the money and then proceed with subdividing the remaining acres uniformly but there are people who want to have it on their own,” Ms Wanjiku said.
Ms Wanjiku points out that their differences have resulted in the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development withholding the money and her efforts to follow up on the matter have been in vain since the other families are not about to soften their stance.
“The money was to be paid in Ruiru along other beneficiaries of the compensation but the officers from the ministry said they would not release it because we could not agree on who should be paid. I have personally visited their offices and the National Lands Commission and the officers maintain that the money is payable to the 21 names in the title deed,” Ms Wanjiku said.
Ms Esther Njoki, another surviving beneficiary habours fears that she will also die without getting her piece of land or a share of the compensation.
The families despite owning a piece of land valued at about Sh5.1 billion, still live in shanties since without title deeds, they can not get approvals to allow them construct houses or sell to developers.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION