CS on the spot over demolitions

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko when he appeared before the National Assembly Environment Committee on the Seefar Apartments stand off at Continental House, Nairobi on Thursday 07/03/19. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

MPs have questioned Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on claims that his ministry unfairly targeted some property owners while demolishing buildings across the country.

The lawmakers said there was no justification why authorities under the ministry ordered demolition of some properties on riparian land, but spared others by suspending the exercise.

This comes after it emerged that orders to destroy Seefar Apartments in Nyayo Highrise had been suspended.

The suspension was in order to allow an independent report to be made, after a multi-agency team challenged the National Environment Management Authority’s (Nema) say in the demolition exercise, alleging that Nema was an interested party.

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The revelation saw Mr Tobiko hard-pressed to explain the basis on which Nema and Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) ordered the apartment to be brought down.

Members of the National Environment Committee cited the demolition of South End Mall, along Langata Road, as an example after the authorities spared some properties adjacent to it and built on wetland.

The committee chaired by Kareke Mbiuki further questioned why the ministry suspended the exercise.

“The ministry needs to tell us what professional report did they use to recommend the demolition of Seefar apartments,” questioned Hillary Kosgei a committee member.

Charles Were (Kasipul) claimed there could be malice in the way the exercise was conducted, after Tobiko told the committee that Nema was recused from participating in the ongoing exercise over the status of the building.

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“Why did you issue demolition orders before having a technical report over the construction? You are doing an injustice to Kenyans by these demolitions. You should withdraw your demolition orders until you put your house in order,” said Were.

But while defending his docket, Tobiko said ownership was never a consideration in the exercise.

“There is no discrimination in deciding which building to be demolished, who owns a building has never been a consideration,” said Tobiko.

He said as much as state officers who issued approvals were to be blamed, investors to were guilty for putting up buildings on rivers and wetlands.

He said a directive by the committee to provide a report over the matter had delayed after the multi-agency team decided to procure independent engineers to carry out an independent report.

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MPsKeriako TobikoNemaSeefar ApartmentsDemolitions