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City Hall warns firms in dispute over billboards

City Hall has warned advertisers against re-erecting billboards that it has pulled down.

The Nairobi City County Government pulls down billboards for what it says is the failure by advertisers to pay their dues or for erecting them at unauthorised spots.

Rates Steering Committee chairman John Ntoiti, who is in charge of a team that removes the billboards, said the advertisers owe City Hall Sh500 million.

He said his team pulls down the billboards during the day but they are re-erected at night.

“This is rampant on Kenyatta Avenue, Dennis Pritt, State House Road, Limuru Road and Langata Road,” said Mr Ntoiti.

He said seven companies had gone to court to stop City Hall from dismantling their billboards.

“We respect court orders but some firms have put back billboards before the court orders are issued,” he said.

Chief Planning Officer Rose Muema said the removal of billboards started during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya in July.

Ms Muema, however, denied any knowledge of court orders.

“We are not aware of any orders. We have been having an untidy city because of crowded advertisements,” she said.

She said the size of the billboards was also a major cause of accidents as motorists could not see beyond the huge advertisements.

An advertisement agent who sought anonymity said business has been poor since the campaign began as clients whose billboards were removed demanded refunds.

“I have lost a major client who terminated the contract and wants to be refunded after his billboards were pulled down by the city county,” said the advertiser.

He said advertisers did not owe City Hall money but claimed the removal of the billboards was meant to pave the way for a monopoly company to control the market.

He said companies had receipts and documents proving they did not owe the county council money as they were required to pay cash upfront before erecting the billboards.

He claimed the team of county workers removing the billboards refer any queries to Governor Evans Kidero.

“These people harass us when we ask them for any documentation supporting the removal of our billboards and rudely tell us to go and ask the governor,” said the advertiser.

The seven companies that acquired court orders stopping the removal of their billboards are All State Media Limited, Almumin Advertising, Display & Reach Communication, Firm Bridge, Peermount Advertisers, Stallion Advertisers and Transad.