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Multi-million buildings on wetland to be demolished


A developer who is putting up commercial buildings on riparian land has been warned against continuing with the work.

The Buildings Inspectorate, which falls under the Lands ministry, said the construction of Alina Villas on Lower Kabete Road in Kibarage Valley, Nairobi, is illegal.

“That is riparian land. We shall pull down the buildings,” the inspectorate’s secretary, Mr Moses Nyakiongora, said during an interview.

TITLE REVOKED

The title deed for the property was revoked by the ministry in a gazette notice of April 1, 2010, following complaints by environmentalists that the structures were being built on a wetland.

The ministry declared the land public property after it was realised that if the project went on, it would interfere with the flow of River Mathare.

The construction of the buildings, which started in 2007, stopped in 2009 following protests by activists led by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. It, however, resumed in 2013, only to stop again early this year, when suspended Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu intervened.

She had been alerted by environmentalists and neighbours that the developer, a tycoon said to have interests in the banking industry, had ignored an earlier directive to stop the work.

“So long as the buildings are on riparian land, they have to be brought down,” said Mr Nyakiongora.

However, construction has been going on during the whole of last week.

APPROVED

The developer has displayed a board indicating that the project has been approved by the relevant authorities — including the ministry, the Nairobi City County Government and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

The board shows Sound Equipment as the developer of the Alina Villas, while Kaguanjai Builders Ltd is the contractor. The structural designs of the buildings were done by Harold R. Fenwik and Associates, a quantity surveying firm based in Nairobi.

Nema has confirmed allowing the developer to put up the buildings but said they later ordered him to stop the work.

The developer has contested Nema’s directive before the National Environment Tribunal. However, Nema’s acting chief corporate communication manager, Mr Anthony Ngare, said in a telephone interview that the tribunal is yet to set aside its stop orders.

STOP CONSTRUCTION

He added that if the developer is continuing with the construction, he is doing so illegally.

Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said it would do everything possible to stop the construction. He said they could take legal action against the authorities that approved the construction.

“There seems to be several anomalies, ranging from the ownership of the riparian land to irregular approvals by various authorities, particularly the Nairobi City County Government,” Cofek Chief Executive Stephen Mutoro told the Nation on the phone.

When contacted over the issue, County Executive for Land Tom Odongo did not respond to calls by the Nation.