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How Two Dubious Businessmen Conspired With Kidero’s Government To Grab Public Land In Eastleigh, Multimillion Heist



Nairobi County Government once again finds itself in the middle of a circus following an unending tussle over a two-acre piece of land at the heart of Nairobi’s busy Eastleigh estate. Two companies, Golden Lime International Limited and Blue Sea Shopping Mall are fighting over a contentious award of a multi-million shilling contract by the Nairobi County Government.

The troubles in the contagious land date back in 2008 when then City Council of Nairobi advertised for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the redevelopment of Eastleigh Market through a lease. The city council would provide the land, and then a private entity would construct a mall, shops, offices and apartments.

The model developed by the County government would see the winning company leased the land for 45 years and give twenty offices to the Council. After an austere vetting process, only two companies, Golden Lime International Limited and Blue Sea Shopping Mall, made it to the final bidding phase. Only one was awarded the contract.

Mary Ng’ethe, the then Director of Legal Affairs at the City Council of Nairobi, confirmed in an official letter that that Golden Lime International Limited won the tender and was awarded the contract. They were to put up the Sh.400M mall up, and construction was scheduled to kick off in the next two months.

However, this wasn’t going to be the case as disgruntled parties moved to court to challenge the County Government’s decision awarding Golden Lime International Ltd. the contract. The losing party, Blue Sea Shopping Mall, through its directors Farah Mohamed Barrow and Ali Sheikh Mohamud went to court to challenge the award. Their core complaint was that Gold Lime was unfairly awarded the contract through the PPP and that the land on which the mall was to be built had already been leased out to another company, Alfa Traders, by the City Council.

High Court nullified their complaint, and they went to Court of Appeal on the same. It’s, however, laughable that Blue Sea whose directors are also listed as owners of Alfa Traders(who claim to be the owners of the land with a controversial title deed to support the allegation) participated in the contract allocation process. Naturally, if Farah and Company were truly the legitimate owners of the piece of land as they claim through Alfa Traders, they wouldn’t have to undergo the allocation process but would instead go ahead with construction. After all, they owned the land and so they claim. By participating in the process, they were incriminating themselves and the fraudulent title deed.

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According to Official documents from the registrar’s office that are also in custody of Kenya Insights, show that Farah Mohamed Barrow is also a director at Alfa Traders. A well-calculated coincidence. This came at a time when the County Council was aware and had alerted the Lands Registrar over the existence of a fake lease of the public listed land in Eastleigh by the Alpha Traders.

The cancellation of the false lease was officially revoked On December 19, 2008, by the Lands Office via Gazette Notice Number 11951. Annulment of the lease is also noted on the council’s mother title deed, which it has had since 1969.

Months later in a sharp turn Alfa Traders A year after the revocation of the fake lease award of the contract and after the repeal through Ahmednasir Abdikadir & Co. Advocates wrote to the county council alleging to have been awarded the contract. The letter read “Our client informs us that it was granted a private-public partnership with the city council of Nairobi on the reconstruction of the Eastleigh Market…some individuals after realising that our client was about to be awarded the contract and in furtherance of a criminal act, fraudulently registered a company with a similar name as that of our customers… we advise you to hold any dealing you may have with these individuals.”

Ironically, it was Alfa Traders who tactically and unsuccessfully tried to shortchange Golden Lime International Limited by registering a similar name bearing company called Goldenlime International Limited. Registrar of companies unearthed the desperate conspiracy and dismissed the plot. County Council maintained Golden Lime International Ltd rightfully won the contract, and the pseudo company was rejected. Again it turned out Farah Barrow was listed as one of the managers in the Pseudo Company, Goldlime International Ltd.

In an affidavit to the Lands Department where she stamped the contested land as a public utility, Mary Ng’ethe, the then Director of Legal Affairs in County Government noted, “not surprisingly, and through deceit, Farah Mohamed Barrow once again appears as a director of a dubious company that claimed to have been the successful bidder for the public-private partnership aforesaid,”

With the entrance of new County Government now known as Nairobi County Government, a break from the traditional setting, Ahmednasir Abdikadir & Co Advocates the company representing Farah and company wrote to Governor Evans Kidero’s office on February 3, 2014, regarding the same matter and that’s when things took a sharp turn.

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The Nairobi County Government legal secretary, Karisa Iha, wrote back to the lawyers saying the subject matter of the land, mentioning Ali Sheikh Mohammed and Farah Mohamed, had been placed in his hands to reply.

The County Government insisted that the Gazette cancellation of the lease to Alfa Traders and the court order preventing anyone from acting on the land either through the PPP or private ownership was still in force.

However, Karisa’s insertion brought a total overhaul to everything: “Records held by the county and the latest search confirms that your clients are the registered and rateable owners of the above property.” He reminded them that the case they had filed in 2008 against the City Council and other parties over the land was still pending and that the orders not to touch the land were still in force. “The county has no objection to your clients taking vacant possession of the premises subject to them discharging the court orders,” Karisa said.

Surprisingly, On March 20, 2014, the County Government of Nairobi under Kidero’s leadership, approved Alfa Traders’ building plans. The letter was signed by the Director of City Planning. On learning about the rusty deal that had been made and Alfa Traders’ construction plans were approved by the County’s Government, Golden Lime International Limited, through their lawyers, Gitau Gikonyo & Company Advocates, moved to court and wrote to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to challenge the approval of the building plans, claiming the approved building plans were illegally and fraudulently submitted.

In yet another sharp turn, In June of 2014, the county government cancelled the approvals it had granted Alfa Traders for the building of the mall. February 14, 2016, another enforcement letter from the County’s Government Planning Director Directed Alfa Traders to cease construction but this hasn’t been honoured. Despite the court orders and directives from the authorities, construction of Blue Seal Shopping Mall is still ongoing in what is a clear manifest of impunity and a telling sign that powerful forces are cushioning the rogue contractors.

The biggest casualties of the dubious deal that has seen Alfa Traders developing a mall despite the immense abnormalities are the hawkers and traders of Eastleigh who has since been forced to vacate and look for spaces elsewhere as construction the contested land continues. The Ombudsman Office and National Land Commission have since taken up the cases.

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The slow pace of action within these institutions have however raised suspicions, and Ombudsman Office has been investigating the story since January this year with no report forthcoming. A possible explanation could be they’ve not conducted any investigations, or they did and were compromised and sat on the report. Kidero himself is on record publicly saying the land is a public utility, County Government in official letters have revoked the Building plan and allocation to Blue Sea. All vital documents are accessible to the public, what’s taking Ombudsman Office months to wrap up their investigations if any?

In numerous letters seen by Kenya Insights, NLC has tirelessly written to Alfa Traders and served notice to cease and vacate the premises listed as a public utility. NLC is also giving insulated warnings and doesn’t seem to be genuinely concerned about securing the land.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko who has been on the forefront in various land grabbing in the County has maintained a resounding and suspicious silence on the Eastleigh land grabbing. Perhaps he’s compromised by the dubious wealthy contractors or he’s plain unconcerned about the traders being victimised or whatsoever his reasons. Kenya Insights has learnt that the traders union has reached out to the senator for intervention including numerous visits to his office, but he has given them a dead ear.

The question in many people’s minds is how and why the land that was previously and genuinely listed as a public utility was privatised with the entrance of Kidero Government and how Alfa Traders got hold of a title deed to a public listed land. Kenya Insights is learning that they no longer have their claimed title deed and have applied to NLC to be given a new one. An apparent backdoor and uncouth means to get a new title deed on a land that they don’t legally own.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [[email protected]]


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