Why the government would give approvals for the development of multi-billion real estate then order for its demolition a few years down the line is a question that many are asking.
In what is now becoming the trend in demolitions being carried out in Nairobi, developers and tax payers continue to pay for the sins of a few government officials who are free.
The owners of Seefar apartments, a Sh1 billion property located in Highrise Estate were on Thursday night given 14 days to bring down the houses before bulldozers which have been on a break since the demolition of Taj Mall roll in.
In statements, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) informed Erdemann Properties, the owners of Seefar Apartments that they have encroached on the Nairobi Dam.
“You have built a permanent structure into the Nairobi dam contrary to CAP 387 of the Laws of Kenya,” said Nema in their order signed by Catherine Thaithi.
“You are hereby required to remove the building on Nairobi Dam within 14 days and restore the riparian reserve to its original state within 90 days,” said Warma in the notice signed by Michael Moturi.
Tomorrow, the owners of the property will be required to present themselves and argue their case at the Nemaoffices.
The apartments, whose construction was launched by the late Housing Minister Soita Shitanda comprise 288 middle-income units — 264 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units — on three blocks of 12 floors. A three bedroom apartment at Seefar goes for Sh9 million while a two-bedroom unit costs Sh6 million. Those renting pay an upwards of Sh35,000 for a two bedroom unit. Yesterday, those who live in the apartments expressed anger at the government saying they will not go down without putting up a fight. Erdemann Properties could not respond with its communication team saying their boss was in church and was not in a position to comment.
“Unless the government is suffering from amnesia, we would not have been fools to buy property that did not have all the approvals,” Monica Wairimu said.
“We have lived here for close to four years, where was the government all this time? Who will pay back our mortgage? Someone must be held responsible,” complained Harold Ochieng.
At 4pm, the property manager Ascendas sent out a circular asking the residents to remain calm.
“We are working on this together with the owners and developer to ensure that the alarming notice is withdrawn as fast as possible. We have all the necessary documents that are verified,” said the property manager. “We will obtain an injunction latest Tuesday as we pursue the matter with relevant authorities.”
Seefar Apartments sits on LR NO 209/12108 which was hived off Highrise Estate by the National Housing Corporation. Erdemann began construction of the apartments some time in 2012 after being given approval number 0008382 by Nema. The approval was given on June 29, 2011.
The Sunday Standard understands that sometime after construction started, the banks of Nairobi Dam which is just next to the apartments collapsed. Warma gave an approval to the developer to construct an emergency spill way to drain the water in the dam and then reinforce its walls.
“WARMA directs that the repair works are carried out as per designs submitted earlier to a satisfactory level,” said the Authority in a letter signed by Samson Oiro.
Langata MP Nixon Korir has said those who gave the approvals should be held accountable.