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Hope for city home owners in Sh16bn land dispute

Home-owners who bought property in a city estate now worth Sh16 billion got a reprieve on Monday after they were asked to produce genuine documents to prove their ownership.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei told developers who have proof that they bought the land in a controversial Diamond Park Estate in Nairobi to present them for scrutiny.

At the weekend, the minister had said that houses built on the land risked being demolished because they were built on public land.

On Monday, however, Mr Koskei said that many unsuspecting people may have been duped into buying the 210-acre land, which belongs to the veterinary department. 

“There are people who are innocent in this whole saga, especially the second, third even fourth buyers,” he said at a news conference in Nairobi.

“We, at the same time, invite the others to court, failure to which we will bring down their structures.” 

Numerous investors have constructed several properties on the controversial parcel of land including a multi-billion estate — the Diamond Park Estate — and the Winners Chapel. 

Should the government move ahead with plans to repossess the land and demolish property on it, they may lose Sh16 billion. 

Said Mr Kosgey: “We shall not allow the country to be held hostage by people who do not want us to expand our institutions. Those who feel they have genuine documents should come for discussions with us.” 

He said the government had plans to expand the veterinary department on the land, including building a factory to produce vaccines for livestock. 

“We will spend up to Sh2 billion to upgrade the production system of vaccines. We currently produce only 18 million doses. Our aim is to triple this,” he said. 

The director of the Diamond Park Housing Company, Mr Mohammed Khalif Ali, recently said the firm bought the land from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in 2003.

At the weekend, Mr Koskei had said that according to the Ndung’u Land Report, all the allocations were illegal. The report recommended that the land be repossessed.

Some of the families that were to be affected said they had spent Sh16 million to buy their homes and they had no other investments to fall back on should their houses be demolished.