Trade Unions Secretary general Francis Atwoli.
BY SAM ALFAN.
Over 950 land owners in Nairobi’s Tassia area have moved to Court in a bid to block the implementation of a Sh920,000 infrastructure fee the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has tagged on each of the 5,500 plots it sold to them in 2005.
The Tassia Plot Owners Association wants NSSF barred from charging the fees, arguing that it violates the agreement the two parties signed upon purchase of the land, including selling some plots to people who are not members of the association and increasing the cost of the land.
NSSF had levied the charges on the land owners in a bid to raise Sh5 billion for the construction of a road and other infrastructure.
The plots were to be sold in 33×66 feet and 100×50 feet plots at Sh315,000 and Sh800,000 respectively to members of the association, which has since risen to Sh550,000 and Sh1.2 million respectively.
The payments were to be made in installments, within 10 years of the agreement.
The land owners have said in their Court papers that the mandate of the infrastructure development does not fall under NSSF, as they relinquished the land with the signing of the 2005 agreement.
They further claim that NSSF has refused to issue their members with title deeds unless they pay the Sh920,000 for infrastructure.
“The petitioners, being the legal and equitable owners of the approximately 5,500 plots which have been sold to them by the NSSF ought not to be victimized and forced to construct a road and other infrastructure,” said George Kithi, the plot owners’ lawyer.
The pension scheme has in response asked the Court to dismiss the suit, arguing that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter, as an appeal to another suit challenging the charges was ruled in favour of NSSF in September.
Justice Weldon Korir on that occasion argued that the land owners had agreed to foot infrastructure bills in the area when they signed the 2005 deal.
“The land owners, being aware of the High Court decision have already commenced an appeal by filing a notice of appeal. This Court lacks the jurisdiction to impinge a decision from a Court of a concurrent jurisdiction,” said NSSF.
The tender for the infrastructure upgrade was initially awarded to China Jianxi International, but was cancelled by Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi after protests over the deal.
Investigations into the matter by the Public Investments Committee revealed that previous tender awards to the Chinese firm had seen NSSF lose over Sh500 million in bid price variations over five years.