Second developer lays claim to Lang’ata Road property
The ownership battle surrounding the piece of land located on Nairobi’s Lang’ata Road on Wednesday took a new turn after a second private developer laid claim to it.
Through an application filed at Nairobi’s Milimani Commercial Court, Vinemag Enterprises, entered the fray claiming ownership of the 1.4 acre piece of land that Airport View Housing Limited, a private developer, is accused of illegally appropriating from Lang’ata Road Primary School.
Vinemag claims that it had struck a deal with Airport View to buy the land for Sh140 million.
The company told the court that it intends to lodge an official claim for the land that Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils have been using as a playground.
“Sometime in October 2014, we agreed to purchase the property at Sh140 million. I dutifully did my due diligence incurring costs to verify the authenticity of the sale. Upon being satisfied with the ownership of the property I instructed my advocates to proceed and finalise the agreement,” Byron Okello, a director of Vinemag says in papers filed in court.
Mr Okello has attached copies of letters he claims to have obtained from various land authorities, including City Hall, allowing his firm to complete the sale agreement with Airport View.
The developer says the dispute between Airport View and the primary school has stalled its plan to purchase the land.
“Before the agreement could be executed, an issue of the suit premises being a school playground came up thereby delaying execution. Vinemag prays that it be enjoined in this suit as an interested party and be granted leave to file a defence and counterclaim,” the firm said in its application.
Documents Airport View has filed in support of its suit against City Hall show that Vinemag is the firm that was to construct a mall on the disputed land before it was stopped in the wake of protests by Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils, teachers and parents.
Airport View, owned by brothers Harbans, Mandip, Kamal and Manjit Singh have attached as evidence a letter from City Hall to Vinemag in which chief land officer S. G. Mwangi confirmed that the disputed land is not part of the school.
The letter gave Vinemag the greenlight to submit development proposals for approval but warned that it was in Wilson Airport’s flight path.
“Please note that by virtue of the fact that the said land is within the flight path, it is advisable to consult with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority on the height restriction prior to preparing the drawings,” City Hall said.
Mr Okello has filed in court a sworn affidavit refuting claims that the land was grabbed. He says his firm had confirmed that fact while negotiating transfer of the land in dispute.
But Land secretary Charity Ngilu has stated that the land belongs to the school and promised to issue it with a valid title.
The National Land Commission has backed Ms Ngilu and disowned a title deed in Airport View’s possession which indicates that the developer bought the land in 1989.
Airport View had in December fenced off the land but the perimeter wall was brought down on January 19. The High Court had declined to issue an injunction against the school as requested by the developer.
Vinemag says in court papers that the land in dispute was initially part of Airport View Estate and remains its property despite being used as a playground.
Bedan Mwangi, Airport View’s property manager reckons that the land was left over during development of the estate.
“I reaffirm that the suit property was originally part of L R Number 209/11296 (Airport View Estate). The remainder piece of that property is what created the suit premises,” Mr Mwangi says.
Vinemag has filed in court a copy of what it claims to be the mother title of the property and a survey map to back its claims. City Hall is yet to respond to the suit.
Lady Justice Mary Gitumbi yesterday adjourned a planned hearing of the suit to allow Airport View and Vinemag to negotiate the dispute.
Mung’ao Rachier, Vinemag’s lawyers, told the judge that the two developers had initiated talks to settle the dispute arising from the botched sale amicably and that they would return to court at a later date to confirm the outcome of the negotiations.
The suit will be mentioned on February 19.