Developer lays claim to refurbished Michuki park

Thursday, June 4th, 2020 00:00 | By
A section of the Michuki Memorial Park in Nairobi. The park is currently being renovated to be handed over to KFS as a public space for recreation. Photo/PD/BERNARD MALONZA

Plans to hand over Michuki Memorial Park to Kenya Forest Service (KFS) may be halted if a private developer claiming ownership succeeds to stop the process that is at an advanced stage.

Ownership of the park—that was reclaimed from a dumpsite in 2008 and established into a green lush park in 2012— took a new twist yesterday after a private developer claimed the right of possession of the 26-acre piece of land.

It is currently being renovated to be handed over to KFS as a public space for recreation.

The developer, through lawyer Peter Munge, has written to the Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to stop trespassing the property. However, Tobiko shot back accusing the private developer of forcibly occupying public land.

“A company laying claim to Michuki Memorial Park is alleging that the Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko accompanied by Kenya Forest Service guards invaded the park without legal basis or justification and forcibly took possession of the said property,” he said in a response.

The developer in the letter dated May 26 to Tobiko and Environment Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the property, LR Number 209/4360/59 measuring 26.1 acres belongs to his clients.

“The history of the subject property started with the registration of grant number LR 11135 on January 24, 1955 by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, when it was given land registration number 209/436, comprising 32.26 acres or there about and registered in favour of Ewart Scott Grogan for a term of 50 years from January 1, 1951,” he added.

Through the lawyer, the developer said on April 25, 1958, a portion of the property measuring 26.1 acres was excised; sold and transferred to Shrimati Parpatibai, Vashdev Hiranand, Hasham Meralli, Abdulla Fazal and Kundan Lal Watson-the second registered owners.

Enhance integrity

The transfer to the second registered owners was registered on April 25, 1958 and certificate of title number LR 15153 issued.

Thereafter, ownership changed several times due to probate matters in respect of the second registered owners so that as at the initiation of the project, the owners were Gidoomal holdings limited.

Other owners included Lakhinichand Hiranand, Swamp Estate limited, and the executors of the estate of Abdulla Fazal, now deceased.

The lawyer said sometimes  back the owners embarked on developing a masterplan on the property for mixed use development.

“…with instructions to ensure compliance with all the applicable laws and regulations more so due to the proximity to the city centre and also being mindful that the Nairobi River bisects west to East through the subject property.”

The developer now wants, among others, the ministry to get out of the property and desist from doing any work there.

Tobiko in further response, the CS said the ministry has been in active possession of the property with continuous annual activities since 2008 such as tree planning.

“The ongoing rehabilitation of the park for instance, is meant to enhance its ecological integrity, for public use and enjoyment in accordance with the Constitution,” he said in a statement.

The CS said prior to 2008, more than two thirds of the land was largely unattended and was used as an illegal dumpsite that also hosted hard core criminals and drug dens.

Further, Tobiko said that to have come to a conclusion that the 26 acres of land would be transformed into a public recreation park, the government undertook construction of a number of physical infrastructure at a huge cost and expense that cannot be compromised at this stage.

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