A parliamentary watchdog committee yesterday put the National Land Commission on the spot over failure to submit valuation reports for SGR land compensation.
NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri and director of valuation and taxation Salome Munubi told MPs Auditor General Edward Ouko had yet to verify how the compensation was done a year ago.
Ouko is to establish whether Sh2.8 billion was properly used for compensation in the SGR project.
Swazuri and Munubi appeared before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja). They defended the delayed submission of crucial documents to MPs and maintained they did not engage in any fraudulent practices during the compensation.
“We do verification of title deeds before going ahead with payment. Where in doubt or when there are two people claiming the same piece of land, we do not pay until the parties solve their problem,” Swazuri said.
They appeared to respond to queries about double compensation claims and allegations of ghost beneficiaries in the mega-project.
The committee also wanted an explanation on claims of overcompensation caused by overvaluation and compensation pertaining to the Kenya Railways land in the transactions done in the 2015-16 financial year.
The NLC failed to provide information on acreage, title deeds and valuation reports of the land whose owners were compensated by the government.
Committee smells malpractices
MPs voiced concerns over Swazuri’s failure to provide the documents to the auditor a year after the compensation.
Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda) and Christopher Nakuleo ( Turkana North) said NLC’s failure to provide the information might have been a ploy to engage in malpractices.
“I read a lot of mischief in the delay by the National Land Commission to provide information to the Auditor General,” Nakuleo said.
However, Swazuri said the commission does not pay for any property or structure put up six months after the land has been identified for a government project.
That helps to avoid paying individuals who take advantage of compensation schemes, he said.
Wandayi insisted that his committee will not absolve Swazuri and his commission of the audit queries until they give satisfactory explanations for delaying the valuation reports.
“What we have listened to so far are just stories. As far as we are concerned, the audit queries remain unresolved,” he said.