Over half Ngong Forest gone, water tower dying

A police officer on guard in Ngong Forest. /JACK OWUOR
A police officer on guard in Ngong Forest. /JACK OWUOR

Manipulative officials in President Daniel Moi’s administration took advantage of legal amendments to hive off public forestland, the Star can reveal.

Ngong Forest, which was gazetted in 1932, is recognised by the government as a sanctuary and is watched by armed guards round the clock.

It was made a reserve through a proclamation in 1932. By then, it covered less than 7,232 acres.

In 1964, it was declared a central forest under a legal notice. Over the years, however, some parts were allocated. By 1978, the forest covered only 3,282 acres.

It is estimated that only 1,453 acres remain following untamed grabbing. This means more than 5,000 acres are gone. Land grabbers capitalised on the government’s move to amend laws to establish private and public institutions.

Conservationists say the decision emboldened racketeers, who swiftly exploited loopholes for their personal gain.

For instance, Proclamation 14 of 1933 allocated four acres to Saint Francis Church, documents in the Star’s possession show.

Proclamation 459 of 1958 hived off 2.5 acres for a church, also known as Saint Francis, in Karen. It is not clear whether the two churches are one and the same.

Another 2,870 acres were allocated for Nairobi National Park through Proclamation Number 46 of 1946.

Proclamation 1, 1951, excised 79 acres for Extelcoms, while 208 acres were issued to the Duke of York through Proclamation 70 of 1949.

The Lang’ata cemetery became one of the beneficiaries through Proclamation 21 of 1955. It got 124.5 acres.

Kabiria-ini benefited from 145 acres through Proclamation 15 of 1951 and the War Memorial cemetery got 11.06 acres through Proclamation 46, of 1965.

The Kenya Science Teachers College would later get 65 acres through P18 of 1966. This was shortly followed by the Meteorological Department, which got 23.34 acres through P35 of 1966.

In total, about 3,532 acres were hived off through legal amendments.

The water tower plays a crucial role in Kenya’s well-being, river health and availability of water.

Yesterday, a source with the Kenya Forest Service said the forest that is only six kilometres from Nairobi’s CBD could soon disappear if war on grabbers is not intensified.

“Grabbers have taken more than half,” the source said.

“The cartels that had interest in the portions of forest used their connections to ensure the title for almost half the forest is produced.”

The source said the title number IR/81938/926940 has an area of about 1,453 acres in the name of the Treasury PS.

“From reliable information, the preparation of the title was meant to legalise illegal titles in the Ndung’u land report,” he said.

He sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Ndung’u land report detailed swathes of forestland in private hands. It called for revocation of 207 land ownership documents within the Ngong Forest alone. The revoked titles included eight belonging to Tairo Investment Limited and obtained on October 1, 1996. The original allottees had more than one parcel.

Tairo directors were Dan Wekesa and Peter Wafula. They were the original allottees. Each of the eight parcels meant for residential units covered about 2.5 acres. Redate Investment Limited was allocated seven parcels on October 1, 1996. Parcels were one to three acres.

Redate had David Kutwa and Daniel Karoki as its directors

Lassy Enterprises had land ownership documents for three parcels each measuring about one acre. They were revoked. Its original allottees are listed as Sammy Boit Kogo and Antonett Boit.

Ankam Holdings had two titles. It got allotment on September 1, 1996, for about an acre. Its two ownership documents were revoked. Ankam’s original allottees were Sammy Boit Kogo and Herbart Nyambu Mwakibwa.

The report named individuals who benefitted from illegal allocations as Wilkinsta Orasado, James Mureithi, D.M. Kimoro, M.K. Melil, D. M. Marindamy, Peter M, L Yatich, P. Kamuithi and M.G.L .Aluoch.

Others are O. K Ngunjiri, Zipporah Wangithi, S. Bundotich, J. Sigei, N. Mauki and Maj Gen Njoroge.

Also revoked were eight titles for Linto limited, whose directors were Jane Nduku and Patrick Mungasia. They secured the documents on October 1, 1996. The parcels are 2.4 to seven acres.

Other institutions accused of grabbing forestland include N.K Brothers, Kerio Farms, Testai Limited, Leltaet Flowers and Kipkenda Investment.