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MPs take Hinga to task over acquisition of Sh135m land

By Anthony Mwangi
Tuesday, April 13th, 2021
Housing and Urban Development PS Charles Hinga.
In summary

 A State department obtained a piece of land in Murang’a even after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) placed a caveat on it.

A parliamentary committee yesterday heard that the State department for Housing and Urban Development acquired a Sh135.5 million land in Murang’a in disregard of the fact that ARA had taken possession of the land about which it was carrying out an investigation.

When he appeared before National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Housing and Urban Development PS Charles Hinga could not explain why the department acquired the 50-acre land in Mitubiri area, despite having a caution on it.

According to a special enquiry by the Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, the department was yet to obtain a title deed for the land since it was acquired in 2017.

The committee, chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, heard the land’s title is still registered under Chosen Builders Investment Ltd even after it was fully paid for in 2018.

It also heard the land was acquired by the National Land Commission (NLC) on behalf of the State department to solve the solid waste management challenges in the counties of Murang’a, Kiambu and Nairobi.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale wondered why the government would spend so much money on a project whose ownership remains doubtful.

“It defeats logic for a department of the government to spend so much money knowing very well that the ownership of the property had issues,” Duale said.

Following the revelations, the committee has summoned ARA Director Muthoni Kimani to explain why she placed a caveat on the piece of land.

Hinga blamed the NLC for the misunderstanding in the process since it is the body mandated to acquire land for other government agencies.

“There was a lot of trust between us and NLC. We gave the commission money to acquire the land,” Hinga (pictured) said.

World Bank

Despite concerns from the committee, the PS maintained the land was lawfully acquired.

“The process was lawful, transparent, accountable and without collusion, conflict of interest or abuse of office as it was conducted by NLC who gave a lower valuation,” the PS said.

But this did not satisfy the committee.

“Is the World Bank in the picture, as we speak, that there is a dispute on the ownership of the land on which their money is being spent?”  Wandayi posed.

The PS told the committee that the government was yet to inform the World Bank about the land ownership dispute.

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