BY SAM ALFAN
East African Portland Cement Company should complete the sale of 337 acres of land to Superior Homes Ltd within the next four months, court has said.
The land is worth Sh750 million.
A Court of Appeal bench criticized the manner in which the Athi River-based cement manufacturer arm-twisted the housing development firm since 2005.
The parties, the court said, formally agreed to sell 500 acres of land. The 1,330-acre ranch used for limestone mining was to be hived off.
“There is no basis for Portland to brand itself as an innocent party. We think the attitude taken by Portland says little about fair play and candour in the conduct of this transaction,” Justices Philip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage said in their judgment.
The court upheld a decision made by High Court Judge Pauline Nyamweya on March 11, 2014, which extended the completion period for the agreement.
The cement company the said frustrated the firm’s purchase plans and its board of directors terminated the contract on June 12, 2013.
Superior Homes had initially bought 163 acres from the cement manufacturer at Sh292,000 and acre with an option to purchase the 337 acres at the same rate within 12 months after EACC had completed its mining.
The agreement was executed on September 1, 2005 and Superior Homes exercised its option to purchase the remainder of the land on August 30, 2006.
The housing developer was compelled to seek the High Court’s intervention but the parties compromised the suit by a consent dated December 14, 2012 essentially enforcing the purchase of the land but at a revised rate of Sh2.2 million an acre that translated to Sh750 million.
Superior Homes was required to deposit Sh100 million and to issue a bank guarantee for the Sh650 million balance upon transfer of the property.
The completion period was 145 days and should have been concluded by May 11, 2013.
However, the firm discovered that the Government had expressed its intention for the compulsory acquisition of the land through a Kenya Gazette Notice dated August 30, 1988 and that the Ndung’u Land Commission had recommended revocation of the titles to the property.
When Superior Homes demanded an explanation for the non-disclosure on April 4, 2013, a crisis meeting was held on May 8, 2013 where Portland admitted it had not secured all the documents and approvals from the ministry of Industrialisation.
The firm had already obtained a confirmation letter from I & M Bank to finance the Sh650 million balance for the purchase of the land.