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The Smart Land Grab of Nairobi Sailing and Sub Aqua Club

It seems like a group of well heeled operatives of Asian origin  have acquired the over 2.5 acre land (plot number  LR 11382) around the hyacinth riddled water sporting facility Nairobi Sailing and Sub Aqua Club.

The new owners took possession of the property sometime in 2016, following the  “resignation” of the original trustees (Karen KCs); and simultaneous appointment of “new trustees” (an  asian Community Group).

Interestingly, the land neighbors one of the properties owned by the Nairobi Governor, Evans Kidero. In a bid to circumvent public scrutiny and other legal requirements envisaged in the trustee act, this boardroom resignation and appointment of new trustees was deemed most water tight and least complicated.

The unexpired lease of almost 50 years on the land, not only fueled the imperious act, but also formed a basis for the monetary consideration running into tens of millions of shillings paid into another trust on behalf  the ex-trustees. This smart move was intended to cover up the fact that this was an actual sale transaction; and other obvious tax implications.

With this acquisition, other stakeholders in the neighborhood including  former employees of the Sub Aqua Club, the mechanics Jua Kali association, hawkers and the resident KRRC shooting club members are reading mischief  given various run ins with the activities of the new owners.

Ironically, the ex-trustees in a bid to keep the transaction as secretive as possible, sought and succeeded in getting connections to the new owners from within the resident KRRC shooting club. This is understandable given the common shared heritage of the Sub Aqua club and the KRRC i.e both vestiges from the colonial era with less than subtle pretensions to racism.

The new trustees all of Asian origin have embarked on an aggressive reconstruction (using Huts and Homes contractors) of the grounds and sports facilities within the premises. In the process, trees have been cut, walls erected, gates moved etc.

As expected, the first victims of this new ownership were the former groundsmen and caretakers who resided in the compound.They were unceremoniously sacked and evicted .Many of the  Jua Kali traders and kiosks on the outside  perimeter wall are complaining of the dust, noise, pollution  and disruption of their activities.

The  KRRC Club who are sub tenants,  had  members  denied  the use of their facility  for several weeks until recently. Given also the conflict of Interest, as the Treasurer  of the new trustees is also the the KRRC Treasurer , members are already reading mischief following the recent  exorbitant and arbitrary increase of  club charges (rubber stamped by a committee of 4 Asians).

KRRC members are  now being fleeced  without consultation to finance developments around the grounds. Many of the KRRC members are cowed into  accepting these charges due to an unconstitutional club “constitution” which purports to suspend members who pursue due process in courts. It is also feared that with time these charges are meant to drive away membership and make this facility an exclusive  club.

As a sub tenant, the KRRC membership is fearful that the new trustees may in time drive them out with these usurious  and untenable charges and convert this prime land to other commercial/residential use  . The mechanics’ Jua Kali association next to the facility (associated with an aspirant for the Langata constituency) has also not been spared the occasional sparring over border demarcations with the new trustees. Typical of colonial era tactics, the newly employed watchmen at the acquired property are routinely deployed to harass and intimidate the mechanics  purportedly encroaching on this land.

Ownership of Both the Sailing Club and the Jua Kali land is questionable as many are suspecting that the top leadership of Nairobi County might be involved in the grabbing of the facility.

It would be of great public interest to know if
Due process with respect to the trust instrument registered with the Lands Ministry  allows for the transfer of public land held in trust to new trustees by simple boardroom minutes (private treaty)
Who the new trustees  are and whether there are political operatives involved in this ‘smart’ land grab.
What plans the new trustees have and how the public and stakeholder interests will be protected/ safeguarded? Whether there has been compliance with requirements of all the other bodies I.e  Nairobi County Government, NLC , KRA etc .

If nothing else, this should be a classic case study  of how  valuable public land held in trust,  is “legally” changing hands privately  for a fraction of its true worth and with a view to exploiting it against  the  greater public interest.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (www.fb.com/RobertAlai).

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