Kenya Railways on the spot over Sh2b SGR redress
Kenya Railways and the Lands ministry are on the spot for alleged collusion with officials of the company to defraud members over Sh2.7 billion of SGR construction compensation for a parcel of land in Embakasi, Nairobi county.
A petition filed before Milimani Environment and Land Court by over 180 members of Dupoto Darfur Settlement scheme reveals how the Kenya Railways Corporation took away their land and promised to compensate them Sh50 million per parcel in December 2023 but they have not received anything.
The Association members in their court documents have sworn several affidavits to demonstrate how they were conned, leading to a loss of Sh2.47 billion meant for compensation.
The petitioners argue that a year ago, they learnt that the Ministry of Lands was in the process of processing the title deed to the 94 acres that they occupied.
“Following consultations between the KRC and the Ministry of Lands, it was agreed that part of the property would be acquired. However, the petitioners were kept in the dark as to the actual total amount or purchase price agreed on and the acreage of land that was being acquired for this purpose,” states the court papers.
They argue that KRC and the Ministry of Lands, being state agencies and officials of the Dupoto Darfur settlement scheme, acted in secrecy and deflected attention every time these issues were raised for consideration by the larger group or membership which was made up of more than 300 members.
“It is noteworthy that the petitioners have actually never seen their title deed following subdivision of the land that was done as a precursor to, and to facilitate transfer of part of their land to the government,” the court papers reads.
Sometime in November 2023, the petitioners learnt that a meeting had been held by the officials together with the Ministry of Lands and that officials of the Trustees of Dafur Settlement Welfare to fast track the processing of the land title deed.
“Soon thereafter, we learnt that the officials of Dafur Settlement Welfare held several meetings at Ardhi House and that Kenya Railways Corporation (15th Respondent) had expressed interest to purchase the property Sh50 million per acre,” they state in their court papers.
“It is now obvious that from the beginning, the need to hide this important information from the membership of the Dafur Settlement Welfare was choreographed to ensure that we could not know how much money was paid and to whom.”
The association members also contend that the officials of the company intended to share the proceeds of the transfer of the property among themselves to the exclusion of them, hence the motivation of keeping the details of the transaction secret.
“We have also learnt that the officials had planned among themselves and had secretly appointed the law firm of Johnson & Partners Advocates LLP on October 31, 2023 in place of the law firm of Letangule & Co Advocates. No explanation was given for the rash decision,” the petitioners say.
Further, the petitioners say that in mid-December 2023, they learnt that Kenya Railways Corporation had forwarded the offer letter, sale agreement and transfer, and the firm of Johnson & Partners Advocates LLP had witnessed execution of the documents.
“To date, we have never received a copy of either the offer letter, the sale agreement or the transfer, despite being the collective owners of the land or property,” they say.
According to the petitioners towards the end of the month of December 2023 they received information that Kenya Railways had released the funds being payment of the land and that each member of the company was asked to forward their bank account details to one John Karu for him to transfer or disburse the funds.
They were also informed to relocate the property by December 27, 2023 being the deadline given by Corporation and all member of the firm would receive the monies of the purchase of the land.
“On December 27, 2023, bulldozers appeared on the property threatening to demolish the structures on the property. All members were evicted. To date the we have not received payments,” the petitioners say.
The petitioner say that they later gathered information that Sh2,750,000,000 was released to Johnson & Partners Advocates LLP and Sankale & co Advocates through an escrow account that was opened at KCB Bank.
“The kicking out or discharging of their legally appointed lawyers, Letangule & Co. Advocates in an unceremonious manner was merely done to facilitate disenfranchisement of the petitioners and clandestine dealing,” they state.
While seeking the courts intervention in the matter, they say they are yet to received information from Kenya Railways Corporation and Ministry of Lands on the total amount of money that was paid to the two law firms purportedly on the petitioners’ behalf.
“We are yet to receive any communication also on the details of the agreement between the officials of the company and the state agencies that were involved in this transaction including the relevant documentation that led to the conclusion of this process and the list of beneficiaries and the payments that were processed in the multiple transactions,” the petitioners’ states in their petition.
“This petition is of utmost urgency and is necessitated by the fact that the money that was already received from Kenya Railways Corporation being public funds and purchase price for the land belonging to the petitioners may be further dissipated making tracing impossible.”