Weeks ago, a story was run on local dailies how Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s Mombasa-based Autoport Freight Terminals Ltd, a private logistics company, was going to benefit on the multi-billion-shillings Standard Gauge Railway Nairobi cargo terminal as it was going to solely manage its operations.
As the pressure continues so that the Joho’s family can have exclusive use of the Nairobi Freight Terminals located near the SGR terminal in Syokimau, the families of Governor Ali Hassan Joho and that of billionaire businessman Bundotich Zedekia Kiprop (Buzeki) have been listed among the owners of the 27 firms which were allocated a 900 acre piece of land, belonging to Kenya Railways in Machakos.
The EACC detectives with the blessings of DCI and the office of DPP have yet again launched an investigation into how the 27 firms were picked to be given the land.
It is reported that key players including those from Kenya Railways corporation were last month for grilling at the EACC headquarters.
The 10-member board headed by chairman Michael Waweru were put to task to explain how the list the 27 firms was approved.
The land – acquired from the broke East Africa Portland Cement for the development of a bulk cargo handling and transshipment facilities in Athi River – was to supplement the capacity of the Inland Container Depot.
The KRC paid Sh1.2 billion to East Africa Portland Cement in late July. However, there are concerns that the land, leased out for 45 years, was given out to the private firms despite Kenya borrowing nearly Sh500 billion to finance construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
The are claims that land was irregularly allocated and there was no transparency in the whole process. In the 2018 financial year, Kenya Railways made a loss of Sh5.5 billion.
ome of the firms allocated land by KRC is Autoport Freight Terminal Ltd, Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL) and Buzeki Enterprises – companies linked to the famy of Governor Joho, Mohammed Jaffer and Billionaire Buzeki.
Autoport is linked to the family of Governor Ali Joho while GBHL is owned by influential businessman Mohammed Jaffer, a dominant player in the the handling of grain and fertiliser at the Port of Mombasa. Buzeki enterprises owned by businessman Buzeki himself.
Autoport Freight Terminal Ltd and Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL) got 50 acres each.
“Kenya Railways handed over the first 50 acres to GBHL in the month of January 2019 and currently construction is ongoing as the client has taken over the site. Completion is expected by January 2020,” a KRC document indicates.
At the height of Joho’s battles with President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the 2017 polls, Autoport was a major casualty with the taxman suspending its operating licence.
One of the directors of Buzeki Enterprises is Uasin Gishu politician and businessman Kiprop Bundotich. Diana Jepchumba Bundotich also holds 2000 share in Buzeki Entreprises. Their firm was allocated 20 acres.
Also allocated 40 acres is Prime Bridge Group Ltd, whose directors are listed as Crispus Makau Kiamba and Tom Obonyo Ouma Kadoyo. A search at the Registrar of Companies indicates that the firm’s company secretary is Paul Muthoka.
Aya Traders Company Ltd was also allocated 40 acres, with Yussuf Abdiwahab Ali listed as the sole director. Also allocated land are MIT Logistics Ltd (40 acres), Company Freight Systems Ltd (40 acres), South Shore International Ltd (25 acres), Gutale Carho Handlers (20 acres) and Freight Fowarders Kenya Ltd (10 acres).
The directors of MIT Logistics are Twalib Ali Mbarak Hatayan, Abdulwahid Haji Yerowa and Universal Education Trust Fund.
The Directors of Compact Freight Ltd are Dominion Nominees Ltd, Samuel Kairu Njode, Kenevasta Ltd and Mary Wangui Mungai Kiarie.
On the other hand, Gutale Carho Handlers has Peter J Kuria, Ye Yikai and Arthur K. Waweru as its three directors. Freight Fowarders Kenya Ltd has J. Pereira as its single director.
Reached for a comment, KRC acting managing director Philip Mainga said that they were aware of the EACC probe but insisted they have not allocated any land.
“We are aware but we have not allocated land. I better tell you the truth,” Mainga said, insisting he did not want to discuss the matter.
However, a man soon called and announced he had been told to say that the subject land had not been handed over by East Africa Portland.
“Are you aware that the land is occupied by squatters?” he asked.
Ironically, Mainga’s predecessor, Atanas Maina, was kicked out after he was charged with irregular compensation of SGR.
An internal KRC document shows that it leased the land at a “discounted market rate” of Sh20 million per acre and an annual rent of Sh1 million.
The rent will be reviewed at 10 per cent every five years.
The firm, however, says the market value of leasing land around Athi River is between Sh22 million-Sh26 million.
There are claims some firms were exempted from any fee because they pumped tens of millions to build a state-of-the-art logistics facility.
The decision to acquire additional land in Nairobi to set up a bulk cargo handling facility was reached by the Transport Ministry in 2018.
This was after the Cabinet resolved that all cargo from the Port of Mombasa be moved by the Standard Gauge Railway.
However, manufacturers now say the cost of transportation using the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi is prohibitive.
They said from January and to date, the freight charges for containers have gone up by between 33.9 and 39.3 per cent.