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Syokimau: Had I not smelled a rat, I would also have fallen victim

Posted by Administrator on December 1, 2011

One of the houses that were demolished at Syokimau near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Lands commissioner has now admitted to knowing all along that the Syokimau titles were fake, even after millions went down the drain. File

One of the houses that were demolished at Syokimau near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Lands commissioner has now admitted to knowing all along that the Syokimau titles were fake, even after millions went down the drain. File

The insurance industry has to have some of the most imaginative clients in the service industry when it comes to making insurance claims. Using excerpts from claim forms, here are the top five most creative causes of accidents.

Number 5: “The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other on the car behind.” Number 4: “I started to slow down but the traffic was more stationary than I thought.” Number 3: “I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight” Number 2: “I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I would not have asked her to drive it if I had thought there was any risk.” And the number one most creative reason for an accident:  “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.”

I’ve been watching the gut-wrenching saga going on with the Syokimau demolitions and have concluded that the flip flops being undertaken by all the concerned government agencies are as good as insurance claimants: “The land which was ours, was taken away by those guys who then sold it to those other guys and then we woke up and it was a dream.”

I am confident of one thing: we will never find out what truly happened, our moral outrage will fizzle with time and be reignited by yet another – yawn – scandal of volcanic soil proportions and only the homeless Syokimau families will remain with the painful scars.

I bought land in Syokimau. Oh yes, I am a victim of the must-buy-land-now-in-a-good-deal frenzy. It was in the dimming light of the year 2002. A close relative told me about how Uungani Settlement Scheme Self Help Group(USSSHG) had a huge parcel of land in Syokimau and only members would get land allocations. I went, I saw and I conquered. I paid Sh 2,000 for shares and another non-refundable fee of Sh 1,500 as membership. Four months later in April 2003, I then paid a deposit of Sh 13,000 into a bank account for my half-acre plot number 851.

Who wouldn’t pay for a half-acre being sold for Sh 35,000. This was followed by total silence. 2003 rolled by and we were told to wait. 2004 rolled by and we were told to wait. 2005 rolled by and we were told to – you guessed it – wait. In October 2006, I received a letter signed by the Chairman and the Secretary of USSSHG giving a written account of the project status update. The letter played back the discussions and revelations that had taken place at a General Meeting of the group in July 2006.

It turned out that there had been a case pending in the High Court between USSSHG and the Kenya Airports Authority that had been filed by the latter in the year 2003. [What?!] The letter stated in part “ The lawyer for our group….informed members that the case has collapsed and encouraged us to proceed on with our development projects and to pursue the title deed for the whole parcel of land, which in any case is in Mavoko Municipality and not part of the JKIA, which is in Nairobi Province.” [Pardon?!]

So my brain spark plugs began firing. This deal of a half acre for Sh 35,000 is on disputed land? Which land has been claimed by a government agency? Hit the brakes. I kept on reading. “Members were encouraged to move to their plots, start fencing, plant trees, present their building plans to our offices for approval by the Planning and Development Committee who will also arrange for approvals by Mavoko Municipality.”

Put engine on idle. I kept on reading. “Members who have not cleared their outstanding balances were encouraged to pay these balances immediately. A penalty for delay has been imposed on unpaid dues by doubling the amount outstanding on each plot.” Since my outstanding balance was Sh 22,000 I now owed the princely amount of Sh 44,000  because of waiting for communication about what the next steps were for THREE years!

Furthermore, members were being asked to pay an extra Sh15,000 for re-survey of the land, replacement of destroyed beacons and payment of rates. Engage reverse gear! The whole deal was starting to smell worse than a skunk I once ran over one late night on the lonely stretch between Syracuse and Ithaca in upstate New York. I bailed out.

But others chose to forge ahead with the project and the result was the growth of a housing development using hard earned savings and borrowings. On the one hand, buyers of the Syokimau plots cannot plead ignorance. The Kenya Airports Authority had laid claim to that land from as far back as 2003. But on the other hand, the Mavoko Municipal Council cannot claim innocence either as they were fully aware that there was a claim on the land by none other than a government agency, court outcomes notwithstanding. Mavoko should not have provided the planning and building approvals with such relish and glee.

What Mavoko Municipal Council has now done is to destroy any modicum of respect, reputation or integrity that was ever accorded to it. Forget what USSSGH did or did not do, or whether it was ill advised by its lawyer. The local authority had the fiduciary responsibility to provide planning approvals on land over which it had legitimate authority as the approvals only served to validate what is now being revealed as fake titles.

What this essentially does is to put doubt in anyone’s mind about the veracity of any title issued within the Mavoko Municipality. In my view, the overheated property prices in this area should essentially get a much needed dousing of cold water as they clearly are not worth the paper that their titles are written on. The council’s behaviour is an insurance case of driving into the wrong house and crashing into a tree that you don’t own.

Carol.musyoka@gmail.com Twitter: @carolmusyoka

Source: Business Daily Africa

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3 Responses to “Syokimau: Had I not smelled a rat, I would also have fallen victim”

  1. ITHAVETHI said

    Carol, wewe umenena. Umeyanena yote ambayo yanatuwacha sisi sote tupendao kujikuza na kujitayarisha maisha yetu ya uzeeni. Ni kidokeza tu, Kenya na Wakenya ni kama wamerogoa na visa kama hivi vya kutumia hujuma kuwahadaa wenzio. Yaliotokea Syokimau wiki iliopita imetufanya sisi ambao tunafanya kazi na kuweka jasho yetu katika miradi mbali mbali nchini mwetu. Kwa wale ambao wamenunua mashamba na maploti wakiwa na hamu ya kurudi nyumbani hivi karibuni, kisa kama hicho kilituacha na mshangao ulojawa na hofu na maswali mengi. Cha kuhusunisha ni kwamba serikali baada ya nyingine…ya Kenyatta, Moi na hii ya Kibaki, wamekataa kata kata kutatua tatizo kama hili ambalo linafanywa wazi wazi na watumishi wa serikali.

    Chumba cha majambazi kijulikanacho kama Ardhi House, zikiwemo pia ofisi zote mashamba mikoani na wilayani, ndio chanzo cha ulaji milungura ya kiwango cha juu, baada tu ya idara ya polisi. Swala kubwa ni hili, kama wananchi hawawezi kuamini serikali na serikali za miji, basi tutamwendea nani? Ni nani hati kadhaa kutokana na maili nilionunua takriban muongo mmoja tangu nilipofika hapa Marekani, na niendapo kuzitazama tazama, swali ninalojiuliza ni kwamba, ni za halali? Katiba na hata sheria zilizopo hazitasadia kusuluhisha tatizo hili kwani linawahusisha wengi wakiwemo viongozi ambao tayari keshachaguliwa na umma.

  2. i waz a victim of the situation in the neighbouring ( kyangombe) luckily a tenant.

  3. Maigiyo said

    Couple of months ago, I was overjoyed when I bumped on an old friend in Jamu who was excited telling me how she bought n built herself a house in Syokimau. I was extremely happy for her and more so for such an achievment knowing how she’s struggled as a small businesswoman and a single mother. I hate to imagine where she’s right now and everybody else who’s a victim of all the demolitions in Kenya.

    What happened to humanity? Where was this government when the buildings were going up? Couldn’t they stop it then? Ok… assuming the same government was busy…maybe grabbing land elsewhere n missed to notice the developments coming up…why not give alternatives or compensate them before demolitions? The whole idea of government is to protect it’s people but, I guess… not in Kenya!

    Nothing’s working in Kenya…from inflation whereby the basics have become luxuries to…demolitions of property ~ this would be the best time to vote out these selfish and hopeless leaders! The fear of not having the basics brings corruption and my prayer is, someday, a Kenyan generation will be born hence elect a government which will cater for at least the basics i.e. food and shelter!

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