Cash strapped Uchumi Supermarket is now entangled in a land tussle with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) over a Ksh2.8 billion parcel of land along Thika Superhighway.
The KDF is said to have already occupied the 20-acre parcel of land, which was on Uchumi’s recovery plan to turn around from loss making.
KDF moved its equipment into the land, in which Uchumi was in the middle of transaction with Jewel Complex Ltd that had signed an agreement to buy it.
To the disappointment of Uchumi, KDF spokesperson Colonel Njuguna stated that the land belonged to KDF, challenging the retailer to prove ownership.
“The Roysambu KDF Camp is on the Ministry of Defence land; the issue of laying claim to a military camp does not arise. The onus is on the claimant to provide evidence,” said Njuguna as quoted by Business Daily.
Uchumi however says they are engaging the KDF on the matter, despite the military commencing excavation works and erecting a perimeter wall.
“We are engaging with them over the issue. We are certain that this matter will be resolved,” read a statement Uchumi.
The tussle with KDF adds to another conflict on the land, whereby another firm, Sidhi Investiment, claimed to have paid 10 per cent of the land price to Uchumi in 2005.
Sidhi filed a case against Uchumi in 2005 over the same. Retired High Court Judge John Osiemo declined to strike out the case in 2007. Sidhi had offered to buy the land for Ksh118 million in 2005.
Sidhi argued that Uchumi reneged on the deal two days after receiving a cheque of Ksh11.8 million.
The court ruled in favour of Sidhi, but the case has stalled leaving matters complicated for the retailer reeling in debts.
Uchumi owes its creditors over Kshh3.6 billion, and will meet its creditors on Monday to chat the way forward.
In March, Uchumi gave the creditors two options, either take 30 percent of what they owe it, or risk losing all their money. This means that the creditors are juggling between losing all their money, take Ksh1.2 billion and forfeit over Ksh2.4 billion or hold on to the liquidation case in court of the retailer.
In court papers, Uchumi says that if creditors decide to go the liquidation way, the assets owned by the supermarket may be not enough to repay all the debts.
The retailer also argues that the debts might go down, after a verification and reconciliation exercise with the creditors.
“It is believed that the verification will result in reduction of the amounts owed, thereby paving way for negotiation to obtain a 70 percent discount on the final agreed payable amount,” says Owen Koimburi, Uchumi’s new provisional supervisor.