The ownership of the land on which Nairobi’s iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) building stands is uncertain after an audit revealed that the parcel is not owned by the State corporation that runs the complex.
Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu says the title deed for the 28-storey building is not registered in the name of KICC, which is a State Corporation under the Tourism ministry.
But the identity of the person or entity in whose name the title deed of the land, which is valued at Sh2.29 billion, is registered has not been revealed in the public auditor’s report for 2018/19.
“It has also been noted that the land in which Kenyatta International Convention Centre building stands is not registered in the name of the Corporation although its value has been included in the financial statements,” she says.
Title deeds are critical documents that show ownership of land or buildings. The lack of this crucial document has exposed prime government land, including those owned by State corporations and public utilities such as schools, to the risk of invasion by private developers.
The latest revelation by Ms Gathungu rekindles a two-decade-old dispute over the ownership of the iconic building, which former ruling party Kanu claims to be among its assets.
Kanu, which was kicked out of KICC in 2013 through what then Tourism and Information minister Raphael Tuju termed an executive order, has continued to list the property as one of its assets in filings to the Registrar of Political Parties.
Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat in 2012 claimed that the party had a title deed to the building and listed it among its assets.
The party listed buildings worth Sh4.5 billion and short-term assets of Sh1.5 billion in its returns.
Commissioned 54 years ago, KICC has grown to be Africa’s premier destination for conferences and tourism exhibitions
The conference centre was turned into a parastatal under the Ministry of Tourism and refurbished using money from the Treasury.
It hosts several government offices, including those of Senators.
In the latest audit of KICC, Ms Gathungu found the State Corporation had not included in its financial statements the parking area as part of its land.
The courtyard on which Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta’s monument stands is also missing in KICC books, deepening the land ownership mystery.
“Further, the land on which Garden Square Restaurant stands is in dispute between KICC and the County Government of Nairobi,” she says.
Ms Gathungu says that despite a letter from the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to the Lands Cabinet Secretary clarifying that the land in dispute had since been gazetted as a national monument and a part of KICC, the management had not acquired a title deed.
“In addition, the Cabinet Secretary was directed to urgently issue ownership documents to the corporation. The above notwithstanding, management has not availed any proof that such title documents have been acquired,” the audit report says.
The valuation of KICC assets that was conducted in 2019 returned the value of Sh4.04 billion for property, plant, and equipment.
It put the value of the 28-storey building at Sh1,664,800,000 while freehold land at KICC’s parking grounds was recorded as worth Sh2.296 billion at end of June 2019.
The value of furniture was Sh21.5 million and office equipment Sh55.3 million.
Ms Gathungu says the valuation amounts as detailed in KICC’s financial statements for four categories of assets differ from the amounts in the valuation report by Sh1.3 billion.
“The valuer, who had been paid a total of Sh7.6 million, did not give a detailed report on how the valuation was undertaken and why the valuation, particularly the freehold land and buildings seem to be undervalued compared to the current market values,” the Auditor-General says.