Deputy President William Ruto could fork out more than Sh350 million for the land on which his Weston Hotel stands on Lang’ata Road, Nairobi, following recommendations by the National Land Commission.
A professional land valuer, Mr Waweru Maina, told the Saturday Nation that an acre of land in the area goes for Sh220 million. Weston sits on 0.77 hectares (equivalent to 1.7 acres).
“The principal that applies is that the bigger the land, the lesser the value,” he said. “If an eighth acre goes for Sh1 million, an acre will not be Sh8 million, but less. Therefore, an acre in that area costs Sh220 million, then 1.7 acres will cost roughly Sh350 million.”
However, the NLC has recommended that it undertakes fresh valuation on the parcel before a final figure is sent to the DP for settlement — that is if the DP agrees to the NLC’s findings.
A close confidant of the DP who has been following the matter but who sought anonymity said: “He is ready to pay whatever penalties will be imposed on him so that he finishes with this issue once and for all.”
However, the DP’s wish could hit a snag since the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) — the complainant in the case — has signalled its intention to appeal NLC’s decision. This can only take place in a full court hearing.
“It will mean going forward that somebody can just grab public land and allege that he or she is an innocent purchaser, and thereafter decide to compensate, which is wrong,” KCAA lawyer Cyril Wayong’o told a local publication.
In the event that the case goes for full trial, Dr Ruto’s confidant said he (the DP) is confident that the case will go his way. “The documentation for this land are all valid and therefore his chances of victory are strong,” he said.
A conspiracy of silence between officials in the Lands ministry and those from KCAA led to the loss of the land, says a report prepared by the NLC on the status of the land.
The report, signed by NLC vice chairperson Abigael Mbagaya, upbraids officials from the two offices for not doing enough to protect the property even when it had come to their knowledge that it was being targeted by private developers.
For example, the Lands ministry failed to place a caveat on the property as it had suggested in one of the many back-and-forth letters it wrote KCAA concerning the land, while the latter failed to file a court case against what it claimed was irregular allocation of its property to private individuals.
“The order for a caveat was made on December 18, 2008 was never executed (by the registrar of titles),” said Ms Mbagaya in her report. “KACC (Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission) abandoned investigations on September 21, 2010 and there was no case in court to decide on the matter.”
She recommended that Weston Hotel pay the current market price for the land to KCAA so as to enable it purchase land of equal value and for NLC to regularise the title to Weston.
However, Ms Mbagaya noted that the process of allocation to Priority and Monene — who sold the land to Weston — “may have not followed due process, but no documents were apparently forged.”
But she said that the land “was terribly under-valued” by the time it was allocated to Priority Ltd and Monene Investment for Sh409,290 as statutory fees in 2002.
In 2007, the two firms sold the land to Weston Hotels Ltd for Sh10 million.