Kenya Airports Authority should reclaim grabbed public land

Friday, August 7th, 2020 00:00 |
A national carrier Kenya Airways’ plane taxing on the apron of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Photo/PD/FILE

A report tabled in the National Assembly reveals that the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has lost land worth over Sh6 billion to private developers in airports and airstrips across the country.

In some instances, the committee found that titles of some airports such as Kisumu had disappeared. 

Among the grabbed parcels are 12,619 acres belonging to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as well as land meant for Manda Airport, Malindi,  and Wilson in Nairobi.

Apparently, the scheme involved senior Lands ministry officials, powerful cartels and politicians. 

What is more baffling is the fact that KAA, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee, was reluctant to repossess the land despite securing court orders allowing it to do so. 

But KAA is not the only victim of this criminal act which appears to be generally accepted in the Public Service.

Land belong to public institutions such as Kenya Railways, Kenya Pipeline Company, schools and even cemeteries has been grabbed by unscrupulous individuals.

For example, the anti-corruption authority is investigating more than 400 cases of irregular allocation of Kenya Railways land.

The corporation has dozens of stations across the country and marshalling yards measuring 2,700 acres.

The PIC has directed the National Land Commission to expedite the processing of title deeds of all land owned by the corporation to secure and protect it from illegal acquisition by third parties.  

Kenyans would remember the outcry after a senior politician was linked to the grabbing of a primary school playing field in Nairobi. 

None other than the Holy See has condemned grabbing of public land in Kenya.

While visiting Nairobi in 2015,  the Pope reprimanded  “faceless private developers who grab even playgrounds where the children of the poor are supposed to recreate”.

While it remains a moral and criminal issue, grabbing of land raises the question of integrity in public service.

There seems to be an unfortunate attitude which perceives responsibility to serve in government as an opportunity for primitive accumulation of wealth through avarice. 

The culture is fed by a society that seems to not only rationalise but also reward corruption. 

Indeed individuals associated with grabbing of public land have been elected to positions of political leadership.

While we call for recovery of the grabbed land and punishment of those involved, the issue should trigger a collective reflection on our sense of public duty.   

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