OUT OF THE WOODWORKS

Private developer sparks row over Michuki Park ownership

Lawyer tells Environment CS Tobiko to lay off the recreational property

In Summary

• Government accused of trespassing on the 26.1-acre prime property between Kijabe and Kipande roads.

• Prior to 2008, most of the land was largely unattended to and used illegally as a dumpsite.

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko
Image: FILE

There is a new twist in the ownership of Michuki Memorial Park after a private developer claimed its proprietorship.

The developer, through lawyer Peter Munge, has told Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to desist from trespassing on the 26.1-acre property between Kijabe and Kipande roads.

Munge says in a letter dated May 26 to the CS and Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo that the land, LR Number 209/4360/59, belongs to his clients.

“The history of the subject property started with the registration of grant number LR 11135 on 24 January 1955 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, when it was given land registration number 209/436, comprising 32.26 acres or thereabout and registered in favour of Ewart Scott Grogan for 50 years from 1st January 1951,” the lawyer says.

According to him, 26.1 acres were excised from the property on April 25, 1958,  sold and transferred to Shrimati Parpatibai, Vashdev Hiranand, Hasham Meralli, Abdulla Fazal and Kundan Lal Watson, who became the second registered owners.

The transfer was registered on April 25, 1958, and certificate of title number LR 15153 issued.

Thereafter, the ownership changed several times to eventually Gidoomal Holdings Limited, Lakhinichand Hiranand, Swamp Estate Limited, and the executors of the estate of Abdulla Fazal, now deceased.

In 1999, the owners engaged and retained the services of Planning Systems Services Limited, as the lead architectural consultant to prepare a masterplan of the property for mixed use development “… with instructions to ensure compliance with all the applicable laws and regulations more so due to the proximity to the city centre and also being mindful that the Nairobi River bisects west to east through the subject property.”

Munge says the development of the property involved the creation of a unique design for an urban village with 2,500 modern kiosks ,600 affordable housing units on the northen bank of the site while the southern, would have offices, a hotel, shops, apartments, retail shops, an amphitheatre, and parking area for 3,300 cars.

The masterplan incorporated conservation easement that would include riparian reserve, construction of flood attenuation dams and wetland in strict compliance of the law.

 

Munge demands among other things the ministry to get out of the property and desist from doing any work on it.

The ministry is currently rehabilitating the park.

But, according to Tobiko, the project is a public recreational park, noting that the ministry has been in active possession of the property with continuous annual activities since 2008. The activities include tree planning.

He says the ongoing rehabilitation of the park - at great cost and expense - is meant to enhance its ecological integrity for public use and enjoyment in accordance with the Constitution.

Prior to 2008, he states, more than two thirds of the land was largely unattended and was used illegally as a dumpsite.

Tobiko cites the developments as construction and repair of the fence, construction of a foot bridge connecting the two sides of the park enabling public access to the river, construction of walkways and public ablution blocks. 

The restoration is fully being funded by the government.

“It was openly carried out over a long period of time and widely covered by both print and electronic media. The exercise was carried out at huge public expense with your clients' full knowledge, encouragement and acquiesce,” the CS's letter says.

“In the foregoing circumstances, any misguided and ill-advised legal action against me or the government will be strenuously defended at your clients' cost. Further such defence will be accompanied by a counterclaim to validate and void your clients' purported title.” 

Tobiko's letter is copied to Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Lands CS Farida Karoney, Kiptoo, and National Land Commission chair Gershom Otachi.

 

- mwaniki fm