Deputy President William Ruto’s Weston Hotel will compensate Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) for illegally acquiring its land and not the person who sold it to the DP.
On her last day as the vice-chairperson of the National Lad Commission (NLC), Ms Abigael Mbagaya said that as per NLC’s ruling on the matter, Weston Hotel’s owner will have to pay restitution “to the people of Kenya” at the current market value of the property.
“(This will) enable Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to buy land of a similar size and value in the same neighbourhood,” Ms Mbagaya said at a morning show on Citizen TV Tuesday.
Her words fly in the face of Dr Ruto’s assertion last week that the initial owner of the land will pay the fine.
“Reparations have been made constitutionally to restore that land to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority by demanding that those who sold the land to us must pay,” the DP said in an interview with the BBC.
In the interview, Dr Ruto made a rare admission that the land was improperly acquired, noting that Weston was an “innocent purchaser for value from somebody who got it illegally”.
However, Ms Mbagaya says it will be futile for NLC to start tracking down initial owners of disputed properties.
“Weston must pay restitution. If he (Dr Ruto) wants, he can go after the people who sold it to him. That’s what we are doing,” she said. “Can we start going for the people who were allocated initially? We go for the people on the ground. Let them chase the people who are behind it.”
Ms Mbagaya said that NLC — whose six-year term under the chairmanship of Dr Muhammad Swazuri ended Tuesday — had assigned professionals to conduct valuation of the Weston property to determine how much the establishment should pay.
“We directed that it be valued at today’s market rate,” she said.
Asked why Weston was not demolished as had happened with other illegal structures in Nairobi, Ms Mbagaya said each case was decided on its own merit.
“We also have other properties where people are seeking regularisation. These properties are mostly in the Upper Hill area,” she said.
The hotel, located on Nairobi’s Langa’ta Road, has for long been the subject of controversy, especially after a section of Lang’ata Road Primary School was fenced off in a bid to extend the property’s size.
This led to a pupils’ demonstration in 2015 that turned chaotic after police lobbed tear gas at the learners.
The hotel is located a stone’s throw- away from Wilson Airport, a busy facility that mostly serves airlines that offer domestic flights.
Dr Ruto, in his BBC interview, said the hotel occupies 0.7 hectares of land.
Some analysts have approximated the value of the property at Sh350 million, a figure Ms Mbagaya dismissed.
“I know people are talking about Sh350 million. That was not the figure that we had given. We are waiting for a valuation report and we’ll share it,” she said.
NLC’s ruling on the matter raised eyebrows when it was released in late January.
However, Ms Mbagaya said the ruling was in accordance with the law.
“You can do restitution or restoration if possible. You can make an apology … we need to begin to look at these things. That is what land reform is all about. We must begin to look at other ways of resolving land disputes,” she said.