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Kayole demolitions exposed Nairobians’ gullibility

When  bulldozers roared into Kayole last week and  flattened dozens of houses along a one-kilometre stretch between Saika Estate and Mama Lucy Hospital, the incident once again an all too familiar question: Do land buyers in Nairobi follow the laid-down procedures, or are they simply gullible?

The operation, led by the Nairobi County government, got rid of structures along a wayleave belonging to the Kenya Power Company, and although the company’s head of communications denied its involvement in the demolitions, he was categorical  that those affected were at fault.

“It takes common sense to realise that you  should not construct anything below a power line and the people who did it should have been aware of this before buying the land,” he said.

Notably, unlike most demolitions,  this time round the victims were not hapless squatters,but  moneyed, with the property brought down including entertainment joints, garages and ware houses.

Most of the property owners could be seen around, seated in posh cars  by the road for , or organising for their salvaged property to be ferried from the site.

POWER LINES

It is unclear how such businessmen could  have been duped into buying land below power lines, although some of them had share certificates as proof of ownership.

However,  Mr Stanley Mungai, an official from Kiambu Dandora Farmers Company Ltd, which allegedly sold them the land, denied the claims.

“No one has sold land there through our company. Those people claiming that we sold them the land are liars,” he said.

“Just like you, we were informed today that Kenya Power is reclaiming its land along Kangundo Road,” he added.

But Pastor Jane Njuguna of Christ Co-workers Fellowship, whose church was demolished, said the church bought the 15x 33 metres plot, LR NO 11378/3, in March 2013 for Sh700,000 from the company and even produced a share certificate it issued.

“They told us that the land was theirs, and that they had reached an agreement with Kenya Power over its ownership,” she said.

“The county office in Dandora gave us permission to construct two months ago and even came to supervise the construction,” she claimed.

However, Mr Alfred Ligunya, a land surveyor, noted that apart from being duped into buying the land, the victims failed to consider the fact that the land stands on a wayleave.

“It is unlawful to build or conduct business on land that has been set aside for sewerage systems, power, fibre optic or oil pipelines,” he says.

ENCROACHMENT

“And in case such a person is dispossessed of the land either by the state or in case of damage or fire disasters, he cannot sue anyone, including the person who sold him the land because it will be assumed that they were negligent or encroached on government land,” he explains.

However, the law allows for compensation when a person’s land is acquired to create a wayleave after the land has been jointly surveyed by a government surveyor and a surveyor of the land owner’s choice.

Mr Ligunya adds that, even if those affected in the recent demolitions were not aware of the offence, they would have realised it if they had followed the laid-down procedures for buying land.

“A share certificate is just a piece of paper that cannot be a substitute for a title deed, and the fact that the issue turned out the way it did it means none of the buyers visited the lands registry before making a deal with the sellers,” he says.

“A wayleave is a right of way (ROW) over the land of another. This ROW is for carrying a sewer, drain, power line or pipeline into, through, over or under any lands but in so doing, may interfere with the existing buildings,” says the Wayleave Act.

“Sufficient clearances from power lines — allowing for sag when lines are carrying maximum current — must be maintained for operational and safety reasons. Guy wires, anchors and underground facilities must also be protected,” adds the Act.

And if the purpose of using your land does not require you to move, you will still be allowed to use some of the land for certain activities.

“As long as minimum clearances from poles and guy wires are maintained, most rights of way can be used for yards, gardens, pasture and farming. And with a written agreement with the affected utility, the land could be used for recreational fields, streets, roads, driveways, parking lots, lakes, ponds, fences, drainage ditches, fills and grading,” it says.

Prohibited uses include pools, aircraft runways and taxiways, permanent structures, septic tanks, dumps, junk yards, wells, signs taller than 10 feet, fueling or fuel storage facilities.

Garbage and recycling receptacles may be permitted, but the owner should first check with the company that acquired the wayleave.