President Uhuru Kenyatta is reclaiming over 2,700 acres of public land illegally allocated to private developers within Nairobi.
On Wednesday, Lands officials repossessed some 1,600 acres in Ruai associated with a senior government official.
As with Uhuru’s anti-graft fight aimed at securing his legacy, tens of government officials and beneficiaries of the illegal allocations could be arrested and prosecuted.
Documents prepared by senior government officials and obtained by the Star detail how public land was hived off in Kariobangi, Karura, Karen, Kabete and Kahawa West.
The parcels were meant for sanitation facilities, sewerage treatment plants and water storage facilities but were grabbed by developers.
In some cases, grabbers use fake land registration documents to claim ownership, while in other scenarios genuine but fraudulently obtained documents have been cited.
On Wednesday, a joint statement by Water and Irrigation PS Joseph Irungu and his Lands counterpart Nicholas Muraguli said that the government will repossess all illegally allocated land.
“It is recommended that all land that was set aside for development and expansion of sewerage system in Nairobi county but has been illegally acquired by third parties be recovered,” the two said.
The fraud has left little or no land for expansion of sanitation facilities in Nairobi despite its rising population.
Nairobi is Kenya’s largest city with a population of 4,397,073, while the Nairobi metropolitan area is inhabited by 9,354,580 people.
However, documents show that while the government had set aside 4,449.2 acres of land for expansion of water and sewerage facilities, only 1,722.3 acres remain.
The rest of the land — about 2726.9 acres — has been grabbed by private developers across Nairobi city.
At the Karura reservoir off Kiambu Road, 4.3 acres of land have been hived off from the original six acres allocated for water storage for Karura North and Eastern part of Nairobi.
The Loresho reservoir has also lost 2.3 acres of its land grabbed by private individuals. The land was in 1996 subdivided into six parcels —Nairobi Block 90/591-596.
The reservoir is currently located on Block 90/596 with the rest under the hands of grabbers.
At the Kariobangi sewerage treatment plant, 32 acres of land have been grabbed while at Ruiru some 0.4 acres have been taken up by private developers.
The Ruiru land is meant for a pumping station for Ruiru–Kabete water supply.
At Karen ponds, off Lang’ata Road, 5.1 acres of land that was meant for the sewerage treatment works for Karen Shopping Centre has been illegally allocated to a private developer.
At Kabete, 34 acres of land meant for the development of sewerage treatment works has been allocated to private individuals. Two parcels fronting Waiyaki Way are in the hands of grabbers.
It is the same story of public land being allocated to private individuals in Karen PBT where 0.6 acres of land has been grabbed.
The land was acquired by the government during the implementation of the third Nairobi Water Supply but has been allocated to private entities.
Another public parcel of land measuring 0.6 acres in Nairobi’s Tena Estate has been illegally allocated for an open-air market.
Currently, a water tank and a borehole have been sunk and injected into the water supply system. The land is identified as Nairobi Block 82/1290.
At the Kahawa ponds, LR No. 71/7, some 9.8 acres of land meant for sewerage treatment to serve Kahawa West has been grabbed.
In Eastleigh, LR 209/7260, some 33.4 acres of land meant for a sewerage treatment plant and regional offices for staff have been hived off.
According to the documents, in 1996, the land was subdivided into other subplots L.R Nos. 209/7260/1-137 and illegally allocated to private entities.
The government says that while some 11 acres of land listed as Nairobi Block 91/126 meant for the Gigiri reservoir station has not been grabbed, it is under threat from powerful forces.
It is the same case for L.R. 12092 Kikuyu, where some 30.9 acres of land is threatened.
The government says it has acquired a loan of Sh20 billion from ADB and AFD for implementation of sewerage projects within Nairobi City.
This is intended to connect more households into the sewerage system and to construct 80,000m3 per day of the sewerage treatment system in Ruai.
The implementation of the projects is expected to start in July 2020.
The government had also acquired a loan of Sh42 billion from ADB to undertake 80.3m high dam with a storage capacity of 688 million m3 in Thwake, 220 km from Nairobi.
The construction of the dam started in March 2018 and will be completed in November 2020 to supply 150,000m3 per day of water, generate 20MW of power and irrigate 40,000 hectares of land.
Experts have warned that the investment would be a waste if Athi River basin is not restored and sewage is treated to the required standards before it is discharged into the environment.