Between 2011 and 2012, 22 companies were allocated 500,000 acres in Lamu, an area the size of Mauritius.

The timing of the grab was in line with an interesting trend identified by the Ndung’u Commission of 2003

A thread
The 2003 Ndung’u Commission of Inquiry into the Illegal/Irregular Allocation of Public Land produced a thorough report on the land grabbing problem despite having a very limited time to do so.

The commission was chaired by lawyer Paul Nderitu Ndung’u
The commission noted a trend where most illegal allocations of land occurred around the general elections, with the trend consistent in 1992, 1997, 2002 and later in 2012 and 2013.

This pointed to a system of political reward/patronage.
The Report also notes numerous instances where urban land for public purposes, state corporation land, settlement schemes, forestland, national parks and protected areas were grabbed by politicians, government officials and connected individuals

Here are some examples
Nairobi City Council lost council houses that were allocated illegally.

Woodley Estate:

Built in 1950, Woodley was planned as a housing facility complete with a primary school, playing ground, a public garden and a shopping centre for the benefit of City Council staff.
In 1992, Kuria wa Gathoni, then Director of City Planning, prepared a Part Devt Plan targeting open public spaces in Woodley. It was approved by Comm of Lands Wilson Gachanja & City Clerk Zipporah Wandera allocated the plots to wa Gathoni and friends
The Ndung’u report found instances of different titles prepared for the same parcel of land: One under the Registration of Titles Act and another under the Registered Land Act.

This was done to facilitate the illegal allocation of public land.
The report also found that surveyors under the Ministry of Lands and Settlement would conduct surveys from their desks without visiting the site and thereby resulting in the production of two survey plans for the same parcel and leading to issuance of two different titles.
Then there was the illegal allocation of land by local authorities.

Example: allocation of sections of Shimanzi Road in Mombasa, which were included in the Mombasa Municipal Council’s minutes as having been approved

It continues to this day.
In 1997, SK Macharia, former Land PS JG Kibe and businessman Solomon Karanja sold 99.5 acres of land to Kenya Re for Sh500mn.

Problem was that 4.7 acres was Karura Forest land which had been illegally amalgamated to a larger 94.8 acre parcel.
Parastatals were favored targets for grabbers using a variety of methods including running down the corporations to access their assets, parastatals surrendering titles “they no longer needed” and underestimating the land owned by parastatals so as to sell off the “excess”
In 2001 for example, 112ha belonging to the Kenya Food and Chemical Corp in Kisumu was allocated to Spectre International, for Sh3.7mn or Sh33K a hectare. The land would have been worth Sh83mn.
Another scam was to form a parastatal, allocate it land and then use other parastatals to purchase it at exorbitant prices.

In 1994, the Numerical Machining Complex was allocated 839.7ha in Mavoko and within weeks sold 136.07ha to NSSF for Sh268mn.
Some of the deals were turned around in days…

On January 31, 1996, Kenya Railways sold a plot on Ojijo Road for Sh77mn to Guardian International

On February 08, 1996, Guardian International turned around and sold the plot to NSSF for Sh178mn
In the 1990s, 63ha of a total 93ha belonging to Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) was hived off and some of it sold to NSSF for Sh500mn by Sharjah Trading Company.
National Assembly

The official receiver at the AG’s chambers put up Continental House for sale on Mar 31, 1995.

The National Assembly was among the bidders but the building was sold to Archways Holdings for Sh225mn on June 19, 1996
On Sept 12, 1996, the AG’s chambers wrote to Archways inquiring if the building was on sale and at what price.

Archways responded on the same day with a price of Sh580mn

The National Assembly later acquired Continental for Sh465mn on Oct 08, 1997
A lot of ministry lands were allocated through the actions of government officials, who because power centres.

These officials included James Raymond Njenga Kenyatta-era (beach plots), Wilson Gachanja and Sammy Mwaita (Mau Forest)
Njenga’s name shows up in a case where 200 acres (worth Sh32bn) belonging to the Kiambu Institute of Science and Tech (KIST) was taken over and subdivided by an entity styled as The Registered Trustees of Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology.
The entity then proceeded to demand rent for the land from KIST. At the centre of the scandal were James Raymond Njenga, former chairman of KAM Allan Ngugi, Nairobi lawyer George K. Waruhiu, surveyor Kimani Mathu and former Nairobi town clerk Joseph Njuguna Thairu.
The original trustees included some familiar names: Charles Njonjo, Eliud Mathu, Margaret Kenyatta, Njenga Karume, Julius Gecau, Josephat Karanja, lawyer Samuel Waruhiu, medical doctor Joseph Mungai and Archbishop Obadiah Kariuki. They transferred the title to KIST in 1978.
With pressure mounting and the German Development Corporation threatening to withdraw a Sh2.2bn project target at KIST, the KIST board of trustees handed over a title for 70 acres on Jan 28, 2020
The Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) was created in 1965 via the ADC Act to provide a link to the agricultural industry through specialized services and activities.

This Act was amended in 1991 to facilitate the grabbing of large tracts of ADC Land.
ADC discharged its mandate for nearly 26 years before predatory state agents pulled off the biggest ever land grab with over 58,000 acres sold to individuals.

Estimated value is a staggering Sh11.7billion

Here are some of those irregular sales
Established in 1979, The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) was meant to be a premier
national institution

The Moi regime did not quite share this view – It illegally allocated over 3550 acres of KARI land worth
over Sh1.3 billion
Trust Land

Then there’s Trust Land, which are neither owned by the government nor the county councils that hold the titles to the land on behalf of the local inhabitants.

As long as the land is un-adjudicated and unregistered it belongs to the local communities.
Adjudication is the process of removing the lands from communal, to individual ownership

In 1979, a fraudulent adjudication by the govt placed 362 non-local persons (govt officials & friends) as owners of land in Iloodo-Ariak in Kajiado, occupied by 6,000 Maasai Kenyans.
The Church

In 1912, the Catholic Church purchased 1,054 acres from the residents of Mathira Nyeri.

However, the church went on to “acquire” 1,089 more acres in 1955, when the residents had been moved into emergency villages. It later “acquired” 1,488 acres in 1965.
The residents requested the Ndung'u Commission to recommend that the three parcels totalling 2,577 acres be restored to them via land adjudication.

Illegal and irregular excisions of forest land have reduced forest cover from 30% of landmass in 1895 to 3% at independence to 1.7% in 2003.

299,077ha of forest has been excised for example: 11,000 ha for Nyayo Tea Zones and 1,125ha from Ngong & Karura forests.
The Ogiek

In 1997, the govt set aside 1,812ha in Nakuru/Olenguruone/Kiptagich ostensibly for resettlement of the Ogiek.

The actual reason for this was to set up an outgrower tea zone for the Kiptagich Tea Factory standing on 937ha of forest
The Mau Forest List of shame that Raila Odinga tabled in parliament in 2009 reads like a who’s who of Kenya’s public service elite: from MPs, PCs, DCs, parastatal heads, magistrates, chaplains, ambassadors and officials of the anti-corruption unit. 
Karura Forest

Parts of the forest land were grabbed between 1994 and 1999 by Kanu bigwigs who shared 2,000 acres of public land and sold it to private companies, triggering an environmental war with Greenbelt Movement leader, Prof Wangari Maathai
Other proposed excisions of forested as of 2003 included:

-South-west Mau forest: 24,000 ha

-Eastern Mau forest: 35,000 ha

-Likia forest: 2,000 ha

-Tenet forest: 2,000 ha

-Marioshoni forest: 8300 ha (again to settle the Ogiek community)

-Mt Kenya forest: 1800 ha
When the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) requested (quite suspiciously) for relocation of its showgrounds across the country, it was allocated way more forestland than was necessary.

The excess land was later illegally allocated to individuals.
Riparian Reserves

The Ndung’u commission found that a chain of islands off Shimoni Marine Park were illegally allocated to individuals.

Same for areas around Lake Naivasha which fall under the riparian reserve boundary.
In February 1996, 22ha of Malindi’s Robinson Island, which is recognized as one of the few remaining turtle nesting sites and a corridor for migratory birds was allocated to Suleiman Rashid Shakombo.

The commission found that even lands and preserved sites under the National Museums had been allocated to individuals.
Protected Areas For National Security Reasons:

Embakasi Garrison main gate was allocated to a private Co..

DoD lost 400ha in Embakasi

350ha at Thika Garrison was allocated to private developers

40K acres for military use has been grabbed.
A major impact of all the grabbing is that for example areas meant for residential estates have been allocated to uses such as office blocks without a commensurate change in facilities such as sewerage systems, roads, water supply, waste disposal, public health systems etc.
Majority of schoolchildren don’t play/play in dangerous environments on roads, under power lines. Public parking spaces, public toilets, public playgrounds, social halls and cemeteries have all but disappeared in urban areas. Worse still is congested transportation systems
Congested, squalid informal settlements have mushroomed in urban areas, with the dwellers paying rents to wealthy, land-grabbing slumlords.

“This has begotten a culture of existential struggle which negates human decency and solidarity”
Encroachment upon riparian areas and wetlands such as done by the Visa Oshwal Centre, Nakumatt Ukay and the area around Nairobi Dam will have long term, barely reversible environmental degradation
When land that belongs to the public is allocated to satisfy private interests at the expense of the majority, then public morality suffers, public interest disappears and the syndrome of “everyone for himself and God for us all” takes root.

So does poverty and despair.
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