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Nairobi firefighters protest at land takeover

Nairobi firefighters have protested against the allocation of part of their land to a private firm for the construction of kiosks, saying this would disrupt their work.

The open spaces at the Nairobi Fire Service headquarters, on Tom Mboya Street, were allocated to Rawi Group of Companies in 2009.

The firm now wants to start putting up modern kiosks on the land.

The Kenya National Fire Brigades Association, an umbrella organisation for the firefighters, has vowed to lock the company out of the property.

“We offer emergency services and we can, therefore, not allow anyone to put up structures in the open spaces since this would affect our operations,” the association’s secretary-general, Mr Omolo Liech, said.

It is from this head office that the firefighters coordinate their work, especially during emergencies.

Last week, Mr Liech and a group of firefighters chased away the developer’s workers who had come to survey the site in preparation for the construction.

The property, according to Mr Liech, was allocated to the developer by the City Council of Nairobi, now defunct.

“We have been fighting to ensure the developer does not erect any structure on the property. On Wednesday, a team from the company came to survey the land,” the association’s official said in a telephone interview.

Most of the members of the association are employees of various county governments. Only the officials, including Mr Liech, are not employees, although they previously worked with local authorities.

“When the developer first came to claim ownership of the property in 2009, I called the Local Government permanent secretary, Prof Karega Mutahi, who directed that no one is allowed to put up any structure on such land,” said Mr Liech.

According to Mr Liech, they have been lobbying City Hall to build more offices for the firefighters in the open spaces.

“We have also been urging the county government to build houses for the firefighters on the land to make our work easier during emergencies,” he said.

However, the team from Rawi went to the fire station with a letter from the county government, authorising them to develop the place.

“You are hereby granted authority for temporary usage of the open space within the fire station,” says the letter, signed by County Chief Lands Officer S.G. Mwangi.