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Billion shilling homes to be demolished

Homes valued at billions of shillings in two of the county’s newest housing estates might soon be demolished.

A hotel and a supermarket could also be knocked down.

They are too near Wilson Airport and pose serious threat to passengers, crew and aircraft, says a report.

It brands as a danger houses in Phenom and Five Star estates as well as the Gulf Oil premises next to the airport. Also named as possible demolition candidates are Uchumi supermarket, Lang’ata and the upcoming Weston hotel.

Security chiefs fear the houses and commercial properties could be used as launch pads by terrorists on the airport.

The recommendation for demolition is contained in a security audit report released by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA).

Phenom estate has four phases with 343 four-bedroomed houses. Of these, only two units in Phase 4 are yet to be sold. The rest were sold at Sh18.2 million each, revealed a representative of the developers, Chigwell.

He said majority of the buyers were the upper middle class who had taken out mortgages for the houses.

“We admit that the houses are too close to the airport. However, they don’t stand on the flight path but on the flight funnel and there is nothing (wrong) with that,” said the man from Chigwell.

He went on: “We have all the necessary approvals from Kenya Airports Authority, KCAA, Nema and the county government.

“The financial institutions that partnered with us to offer mortgages to potential buyers also did their work with due diligence,” he added.

Housing Finance Corporation of Kenya (HFCK), one of the project’s mortgage financier’s also said all the necessary approvals had been obtained.

“I have not seen the audit report but I’m aware that before a project of such magnitude is undertaken, all the necessary approvals must be sought and obtained, as is the case with this one,” said the CEO Frank Ireri.

Aircraft operators have raised concerns about commercial and residential properties around the airport, saying they posed serious security and safety risk.

Missile attack

The audit report recommends that the Gulf Oil premises be moved away from the aircraft approach path and should not have a direct access point into the airport.

The Five Star estate is located parallel to runway 32 almost touching the fence to the left side of takeoff, the report said.

The estate is too close to the runway and the audit team said a missile attack would be possible from the houses . It could be planned from the estate and be implemented in darkness because the far end of the airport is not lit.

Another fear is that the houses might also host criminals pretending to be tenants, who would study the operations of the airport and its vulnerabilities.

“The audit team observed that the (Phenom) estate is a threat to the approaching aircraft and at the same time denying the airport a good view of the bypass activities during patrols,” it went on.

The recommendations assume an even greater significance in the wake of increasing threats to security in Nairobi.

Airports have been ranked as among places most vulnerable to terror attacks.