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Mystery over who owns KICC land

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Mystery over who owns KICC land


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Nairobi’s iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • 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.

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.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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