Marble Arch Hotel. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A judge has dismissed a petition by tycoon Mike Maina seeking to block Nairobi County from demolishing Marble Arch Hotel.
Justice Lucy Mbugua of the Environment and Land Court dismissed the case, saying the businessman did not exhaust available dispute resolution mechanisms before rushing to court.
The tycoon moved to court in 2018 after former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko threatened to demolish the three-star hotel, claiming that it stands on public land and was built without approvals from the county government.
The former governor had also demolished a perimeter wall adjacent to the hotel saying the land, which the tycoon uses as a parking facility, was also public land. Mr Sonko later marked the hotel’s walls for demolition with the words ‘illegal’.
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“It follows that the issues raised by the petitioner sought to be addressed through the dispute resolution mechanisms available under the relevant statutes and in an ordinary suit,” said Justice Mbugua.
The judge said the tycoon moved to court without following the laid down dispute resolution mechanisms.
The businessman wanted the court to declare that he was the legal owner of the two plots and grant him a permanent order, restraining the county government from trespassing or demolishing the hotel.
Mr Maina also sought Sh2 million in damages, accusing the county officials of trespass.
He said he acquired the two plots in 1993 and 1995 and has been running the hotel since 1993 and using the adjacent plot as a parking lot. The businessman said he has dutifully paid rates, rent and other approvals and licences for the properties.
The tycoon argued that planned demolition did not have a basis and it was an infringement on his rights to own property. The notice, he said, was malicious and should be quashed. City Hall did not defend the case.
“The upshot of the findings of this court is that the suit is not merited and the same is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.
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Mr Maina’s mansion was demolished in 2007 to pave the way for the construction of the Waiyaki Way-Redhill link road.
The State, however, was ordered to compensate the tycoon Sh859 million for the demolition.
Bulldozers tore down Mr Maina’s eight-bedroom mansion to make way for a bypass and he successfully sued for damages. The government has appealed against the judgment.
In his evidence, Mr Maina said he had spent Sh299 million to build the mansion and acquired the land for Sh80 million. The government, however, said Mr Maina had acquired the land unlawfully through fraud, misrepresentation and mistake.
It said the land was part of a road and that the government had acquired it in the early 1970s to build a 4.4-kilometre link road.