Community Advocacy on Environmental and Social Justice

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

HOW WE KICKED A ROGUE KENYA GOVERNMENT FROM A MULTI-BILLION PROJECT.

A quote by Samwuel Adams “ It doesn’t take a majority to prevail….but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting bushfires of freedom in the minds of men” 


Muthurwa estate is a 72 acre parcel of land with 2665 households, on land No.209/6502 located within 2 kilometers from Nairobi Central Business District, the estate was constructed in and around 1914-18 for the workers and families of the then East Africa Railways and Harbors Administration, until 1978 changes of ownership from Britain agreement to Kenya Railways Cooperation.


 The Grant No.I.R 20869 lease title (Title deed) for 99 years, page 2 of the title stipulates;
1. The land maybe used for residential purposes only.2. The Grantee shall not subdivide the land.3. The grantee shall not transfer sublease or part with the possession of the land or any buildings thereon, without the previous written consent of the commissioner of lands.

In late 2006 the government of Kenya was facing a major problem of urban unemployment, street vendors and hawkers were increasing by the minute, thousands of street vendors were selling their wares within Nairobi Central Business District (NCBDA) denying the government the much needed taxes, regular serious confrontations which most often led to destruction of properties worth millions of shillings or sometimes deaths occurred between the City Council of Nairobi officers, regular and  the Administration Police.


Due to this the Kenya Government through 2005/06 parliamentary budget allocated Ksh.800 million (US$ 9,523,809.52) for construction of a modern market to cater for about 8000 vendors whom were holding the city hostage.Through corrupt means as it was later confirmed a negotiation was done between the government through the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Kenya Railways Cooperation (KRC) and Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefit Scheme (KRSRBS) for the sale of 14 acres of Muthurwa estate. Due to lack of independent overseer an extra 2 acres were increased thus the market was constructed on 16 acres. 


The President republic of Kenya Hon.Mwai Kibaki launched the market project on 11th-December 2006 placing a monument for commencement of the project about 450 households were left homeless after government graders embarked on demolition after expiry of a 72 hours notice.

In March 2008 the market was completed and officially opened by Minister of local government, thousands of small scale traders got an opportunity to earn a livelihood. Thousands of vehicles plying Eastlands of Nairobi were relocated to the new market through gazzette notice dated 15th-March, 2008.The need for more parking spaces to expand and accommodate more vendors and vehicles was borne.
  
July 2010 a cabal of politicians, businessmen and wheeler-dealers jostled to take control of the remaining 56 acres prime land of Muthurwa estate, after boardroom meetings between government and  board of scheme for Pensioners in conjunction with Kenya Railways Cooperation.In what was fast shaping up as a contest of the mighty, scheming in high gear for ownership of the entire land that was up for grab.

The 56-acre prime parcel of land was up for sale with a plan to demolish the old, dirty and dilapidated houses and replace them with ultra-modern housing units, shopping malls, office blocks and parking silos. The initiative was to be dubbed “South East Commercial Park”

Calling for support internationaly
"The houses in Muthurwa Estate have been condemned because they are an eyesore. We want to sell the land to raise money for the pension scheme," Mathews Tuikong, the Chief Executive of the Kenya Railways Retirement Benefits Scheme (KRSRBS) told Financial Journal.
Tuikong said the idea was to develop a complex akin to the Westlands Shopping Centre to serve the people of Eastlands.
The KRSRBS, which was established in 2006 after the concessioning of the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) as a pension scheme for former Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) employees, owns the piece of land along Landhies Road.
Traveling along Landhies Road, just past Machakos Country Bus, all the way to City Stadium Roundabout, one notices that most of the trees that were the trademark of the estate have fast disappeared.
The Financial Journal established that a business lady with connections at City Hall bought all the trees at Sh5,000 (US$ 60.24) per tree, about 843 trees were cut down.
Though Tuikong admitted the lady paid for all the trees to KRSRBS, he could not explain why there was no competitive bidding before selling off the trees.

But even as wheeler-dealers were plotting on how to own a piece of the century-old estate, residents vowed to block the planned demolition.

"We are going to resist the demolition by all means," said Patrick Kamotho, the spokesman of the residents during a meeting held at the estate. During the meeting, the residents presented the former Chairman of Commonwealth on Human Rights former  Constitution of Kenya Review Commission Proffessor Yash Pal Ghai, with a petition to help them stop the evictions.

We had managed to organize a majority of residents and obtained a temporary court order halting the demolition on the basis that were not given sufficient vacate notice.We approached the court to issue a permanent injunction stopping KRSRBS from evicting us and a declaration that we are entitled to reside in the premises under the Tenancy Agreement Act.

Tuikong, however, said the scheme was determined to push through the sale of the land to raise money to pay about 9,500 former pensioners and the existing 2,021 active members their dues. This initiative was consented by the entire board of KRSBRS scheme under the stewardship of Chairperson Berly Odinga, younger sister of the Prime Minister Republic of Kenya. Hon Raila Odinga.

Book value:The scheme has appointed real estate firms Lloyd Masika Ltd, K. Gilam Valuers & Property Managers and Crystal Valuers Ltd as the selling agents of the land estimated to have a book value of Ksh3 billion (US$ 35,714,285.71) but with a potential to raise up to Ksh 5 billion (US$ 59,523,809.52).

"We have instructions from KRSRBS to dispose the property and any company, individual or group of persons can purchase," said Amos Kiplagat of K. Gilam Valuers & Property Managers.

He said the three selling agents have received good responses from interested buyers after the property was advertised in local dailies but refused to divulge details of the calibre of the bidders.

Already, KRSRBS, working with Nairobi City Council, has sub-divided the land with an eighth of a plot expected to cost Ksh27.5 million (US$ 327,380.95 ), quarter acre Ksh45 million (US$ 542,168.67), half-acre Ksh75 million (US$ 892,857.14) and an acre Ksh135 million (US$ 1,607,142.86).

Procession during the 43rd-Head of Commonwealth States on human rights and Housing outside UNHABITAT Hq in Nairobi
The Council had approved sub-division of plots and the surveyors were putting beacons on the land. But with KRSRBS being the embodiment of failure as far as management of pension schemes is concerned, there were fears the disposal of the land will be marred by influence peddling from well-connected individuals and the land could end up in the hands of dealmakers.


It is not hard to see why there was widespread apprehension. For instance, questions were being raised on the status of a proposed development of Golf City along Uluru Highway another parcel of land belonging to the KRSRB Scheme.

The project, was a partnership between KRSRBS and KRC, quietly gone silent even after the two entities conceptualized magnificent designs consisting a nine whole golf course, five-star hotel, conference facilities, shopping mall among other developments.

Though KRC advertised for the 73-acre piece of land 44 companies expressed interest, the Chinese firm that won the contract to develop the $600 million project is still encountering hurdles that have made it impossible to develop the project Golf City Project.

Besides the botched Golf City, KRSRBS was also been on the bad books of industry regulator Retirement Benefit Authority (RBA) due to complains by pensioners that the scheme has been engaging in irregular disposal of assets. Categories of assets worth about Ksh 20 billion are located within all major towns in Kenya.
But Tuikong defended the scheme, saying KRSRBS has been managing the assets based on a masterplan crafted by the Board of Trustees classified on three categories of assets for refurbishment, assets for disposal and assets for re-development.

"Muthurwa Estate falls under the second category of assets for disposal," said Tuikong.
He said the scheme was desperately seeking ways to raise money to pay pensioners, some of whom had been camping at the schemes offices regulary demanding to be paid their dues, which KRSRBS pays about  Ksh55 million(US$ 662,650.60) to pensioners every month.

Community organizing about 3265 residents of Muthurwa estate we managed to engage lawyers and Human Right Organizations in challenging the government of Kenya on legality of the sale, violation of the Title Deed which stipulate that the land has a 99 years lease agreement stipulating the land can be used for residential purposes only, the land cannot be subdivided and a minimal fees of 35 pence will be paid to cater for land rate per year.

Its on this background that we instituted 2 court cases stopping evictions and demolitions in case No.365 of 2010 and petition No.65 of 2010 to challenge the government on Kenya Constitution: Bill of Rights. Article 43(1),(b) Every person has the right to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitations.

Meeting with Chief Justice/President, Supreme court of Kenya Republic of Kenya,Hon.Dr.Willy Mutunga D.Jur,SC,EGH., whom noted the good work I am involved in.
In this case there was a landmark ruling by justice Musinga who observed that under the new constitution Bill of Rights the government of Kenya has an obligation to offer its citizens accessible and affordable housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation. Being a landmark ruling several residents groups from different parts of country have approached the community for support and strategies to challenge the regular demolitions and evictions happening countrywide.

Following our activism and regular processions to government of Kenya as of March 29 this year, the Chairperson Miss Berly Odinga resigned after the government regulatory body Retirement Benefits Authority accused the board of mismanaging the Ksh 20 billion schemes assets,court  cases ensured paralyzing the entire scheme.
Several local Non-Governmental organizations have joined and assisted us greatly in challenging the rogue government agendas among them Kituo Cha Sheria through lawyer Getrudge Angote,Elisha Ongoya,Chigiti, James Etemesi, Boniface, Mazingira Institute through Davidah Lamba, Fahamu.org, Akiba Uhaki Foundation, Pambazuka News, International Alliance of Inhabitants and Kenya Human Right Commission. Bunge La Mwanainchi and Baraza La Taifa Social Movements. 

The estate boasts of a majority of pugilist whom formed the Kenya National Boxing team famously  “Chafua Chafua” which means “Spoil Spoil” hailed from this estate, the estate boast of being the first estate to have produced a first African Olympic Gold medal in 1986 boxing game in Manchester’s, through the late Robert Modesty Wangila, whom hailed and trained in the nearby landmark social hall known as “Dallas Social Hall.” 






Its amazing that about 13 Golds medals, 20 Silvers,30 Bronzes have been achieved through this facilities, that is in Olympics, All African Games, Commonwealth games, Kings Cup and in Intercontinental championships.

Benson Gicheru the youngster representing Africa in Lightweight in London Olympics next month, the entire  national team in City parade before preparations towards London Olympics.
Its noteworthy to know that a majority of families in this estate have families members whom joined armed forces, police and state cooperation’s through pugilism. Currently the only Kenyan Boxing champion representing the continent and the country in London Olympics has family members residing in the estate.

Through regular residents meeting I was elected the community chairman aged 34 years, registered the Muthurwa Residents Welfare Association, I became the youngest person to have managed to stop the illegal government from undertaking an illegal multi-billion project.

Report by.
Patrick Kamotho: Fahamu Pan Africa Fellow, Community Organizer- Human/Environmental Right Activist.

3 comments:

  1. This is the Kenya I believe in and dream of! People reclaiming their air, water, soil from the forces of greed and violence. Hongera Muthurwa Residents!

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  2. Well Patrick this is a view of one side of the Coin. How about the other side where Pensioners have been denied their legitimate asset and a right to a pension they worked for in their youth. there is need to balance these needs.

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    Replies
    1. Greetings C.E.O.
      Thank You for fighting for the plight of pensioners,while alot has passed under the bridge over the years will you find time we meet,since judgement directed a win win situation to all parties concerned.
      Our email.muthurwaresidents@yahoo.com

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Hi Eroo !! Whats your Views on this ?