Uchumi and KAA land fight hots up

By: JAMES KARIUKI

Two State agencies could be headed to court over a multi-billion shilling property in Nairobi’s Lang’ata, currently occupied by Uchumi Supermarkets.

This is after the retailer vowed to proceed with its intended sale of the land that is also claimed by the Kenya Airports Authority.

“We have contacted the National Land Commission, who have confirmed in writing that the parcel of land belongs to Uchumi Supermarkets,” said the retailer’s company secretary, Mr John Wambugu.

He said in a statement on Tuesday that the firm has owned the property for the past 19 years, having purchased it and put up a multi-billion shilling store.

“The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) warning blocking the intended disposal of the property has caused us concern. It bars interested buyers from leasing or buying the property but we wish to affirm that we own the property,” he said.

The supermarket chain said all buyers are at liberty to scrutinise all ownership papers before entering into a binding agreement with Uchumi.

Uchumi is seeking to dispose of the property to help it raise funds to refinance its operations and ease debts by suppliers.

KAA has, however, lodged a counterclaim over the property, saying the land on which the supermarket is built belongs to it before proceeding to warn prospective buyers and lessees that they risk losing their money if they invest there.

“It has come to the attention of Kenya Airports Authority that Uchumi Supermarkets, who purport to own the land, is trying to sell, lease or deal in one way or another with the parcel of land any person entering into any agreement or arrangement, whether for sale, lease or otherwise with any person other than KAA does so at his own peril,” said a notice by KAA published in the Press.

The authority said it would move to court to protect its property if Uchumi goes ahead with the sale.