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Why many buildings in Nairobi’s residential estates risk demolition

Majority of buildings in Nairobi’s residential estates risk being demolished after MCAs raised concerns over the proliferation of buildings being put up outside City Hall’s zoning policy.

Nairobi County Assembly Planning, Housing and Lands committee chairman, Anthony Karanja, said that only 25 percent of all city buildings have been put up in strict adherence to Nairobi’s zoning policy and have been approved and passed through City Hall systems.

He explained that over the last few years, unscrupulous developers working in cahoots with county officials in the planning department to flout the county’s zoning policy.

“It has come to our notice that the planning department and unscrupulous developers have been approving and developing structures outside the county’s zoning policy and if left unchecked then we will have a disorganized county,” said Mr Karanja.

The damning revelation emerged during the Committee’s session on Tuesday where officers from the Urban Planning department were being grilled over the influx of unapproved buildings in the capital city.

Mr Karanja said that the committee will from next week commence inspection of all the buildings put up in the county re-evaluating their approvals and recommend among other things demolition and regularization of the buildings.

ILLEGAL STRUCTURES

“We are giving the notice to the executive to put their house in order because as a committee, we will be going round from next week to reevaluate the approvals of the buildings. It is becoming a menace,” he said.

“It has even become a nightmare to plan for vital services such as garbage collections because the houses contravene the county’s zoning policy,” stated Kiragu.

He pointed out that officers from the planning department had colluded with unscrupulous developers and put up buildings in total disregard to the zoning policy, which guides on how many floors a structure should have and the maximum number of buildings allowed for in a certain zone.

He said the situation has been fueled by the existence of cartels in the county comprising of sub-county administrators, planning officers and enforcement officers who are allowing the illegal structures to be put up.

“People are being allowed to construct on road reserves, airports, public lands, and military installations outside the zoning policy. In an area like Kileleshwa where buildings are only allowed to go only four storeys up but we have since established that some buildings in the area go up to 15 floors,” he said.

NEW ZONING POLICY

In 2017, the Nairobi County Assembly passed a motion allowing for the construction of commercial centres and high rise apartments in upmarket neighbourhoods.

The county government also expressed plans to introduce a new zoning policy which would see the suburbs lose their exclusive status.

The areas to be affected included Zones 4, which comprises Spring Valley, Riverside Drive, Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Thompson and Woodley.

Also affected would be Zone 5, which includes Upper Spring Valley, Kyuna, Loresho and Lavington/Bernard Estate and Zone 15, which includes Dagoretti.

The Waithaka MCA appealed to Governor Mike Sonko to rein in on rogue officers from the urban planning and housing department who were responsible for the haphazard building of structures.

“We are calling on the governor to keep a keen eye on his officers and expose those working with the cartels responsible for the proliferation of unapproved structures and buildings in the city,” he said.