Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who previously held the Education docket and National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri have been dragged into controversial partial payment of Sh1.5 billion to Whispering Palms Estate Limited for a land hosting Ruaraka High School and Drive Inn Primary School.
Education Ministry and Swazuri have been blamed for processing payment of billions of taxpayers’ funds to a private firm which does not possess title deed for a prime land in Ruaraka. The payment done on January 29 was part of 3.2 billion compensation for the 13.7701 acres occupied by the learning institutions.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney blew the lid before the Lands Parliamentary Committee with shocking revelations confirming that the company does not have title deed for the entire disputed 96 acre-piece of land hosting the General Service Unit headquarters and the two schools.
She told the committee chaired by Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai that the title deed is possessed by the office of the Attorney General who is the “official receiver”. “For how long will the government continue paying billions of shillings to this private developer? Where is the title deed for the entire land? Somebody somewhere must be held responsible”. Nyamai posed.
But Swazuri told the committee last week that the Ministry of Education will only receive title deed for the piece of land once the full payment of Sh3,269,040,600 is cleared. “Once the full payment of Sh3,269,040,600 is done, the owner of the title deed will release the title to the Ministry of Education through Treasury. We paid Sh1.5 billion only as part of the payment,” he said.
Karoney absolved herself and her ministry from involvement in any compensation process to the firm. Karoney accused the NLC and the Education ministry of processing payments to the company which claim ownership of the land. She said the payments were done without proper compensation among all stakeholders during to justify the compensation.
“Public resources should not be spent without proper consultation among various arms of government. We should have done better than this. In future, such compensation should have proper consultations to ensure public funds are well-utilized in this country,” Karoney said.
The directors of Afrison Export and Import Limited and Huelands Limited which are sister companies to Whispering Palms Estate Limited claim they acquired the same land in 1981 from Joreth Limited. They claim the then directors of the two firms were former Central Bank of Kenya governor Duncan Ndegwa, the late Njenga Karume and the late Arthur Magugu.
“In 1986, the government controversially constructed two schools within the land, and just like in the previous moves, no payment was made to the owners. We have been complaining for the past 30 years,” the directors noted.