The role of Kenya Railways top leadership in the massive fraudulent compensation of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) land is set to be exposed soon days after the National Land Commission (NLC) officials were arrested in connection with the multi billion scam.
Kenya Railways, the acquiring entity of the parcels in questions has remained uncharacteristically silent over graft despite having submitted the same parcels to NLC for valuation.
“NLC is just a conveyor-belt of the deep rooted corruption right from design of the railway to compensation. The problem lies squarely at Kenya Railways.” An insider at Kenya railways said.
Last year, Parliament stopped Kenya Railways from paying billions of shillings to property owners who ceded land for the construction of the new Mombasa to Nairobi railway.
The National Assembly Committee on Land said payments made through Kenya Railways were illegal because it is the role of the National Lands Commission (NLC) to compensate property owners. By March last year, Kenya Railways had paid out Sh12 billion.
A leaked Kenya Railways internal audit report revealed massive irregularities in compensation of both individuals and companies whose land the government acquired to pave the way for the new railway. Landowners in the same locality and with different property sizes were offered equal compensation; building owners were overpaid for their structures and others paid for land that belonged to the government.
Last week, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc) deputy CEO Michael Mubea said the officers recovered almost Sh18million was recovered from one of the officials house in foreign currency and bank statements.
Among the cases Eacc is investigating bedeviling Swazuri’s led team in the Sh82 million payout made to a company belonging to Tanzanian tycoon, Salim Bakhresa, Bakhresa Grain Millers Ltd, was compensated against a title deed under dispute.
Also, sleuths took Swazuri to task to explain the Sh1.6billion payment made to a Mombasa based tycoon Mohamed Jaffer of African Gas & Oil Company Ltd (Agol) against a court order barring the payout. NLC made initial Sh519million then Sh1.1billion to Agol.
According to Eacc investigators, Swazuri and his team have paid individuals for public land, double compensation and compensation to people who do not own land affected by SGR.
Further, according to evaluation documents in possession of investigators, public funds were lost due to over-valuation of certain parcels. NLC top officials are accused of colluding with outsiders to irregularly compensate individuals holding titles for Kenya Railway Reserve land and abuse of office in processing the payments.
NLC Legal Officer Brian Ikol presented himself at Integrity Center for grilling. He is accused of making false statements on actual ownership of the parcels in question. Numerous complaints have been filed both in Parliament and at Eacc over the manner in which the NLC has handled compensation for the SGR and other parcels of land countrywide.
Mugo Njeru filed a petition in the National Assembly over the Sh82million payment seeking the removal of Swazuri, the petitioner argues that in one of the unfair compensation cases. In a letter dated February 2, 2017, Joseph Nyingi Kamau and three other people petitioned the Eacc to investigate plans by the NLC to compensate African Gas & Oil Company Ltd, a company Sh519 million for a parcel of land the petitioners said belonged to them.
Lawyers Ndegwa, Katisya, Sitonik Advocates, say the petitioners are being unreasonably deprived their right, to full and just compensation. The land at the center of ownership dispute between Kamau family and Jaffer was compulsorily acquired by the government for construction of the Standard Gauge Railway plot number 755/VI/755 bearing Title No. CR4151.
“It is ordered that this honourable court hereby restrains he defendant by itself, agents, employees, proxies, servants, officers, directors or otherwise from effecting payment, or any payments and or compensation and or in any other way or manner from interfering with all that parcel known as L.T NO. MN/VI/4737 pending the hearing and determination of this suit.” The order issued by Justice Ann Omollo reads in part.