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Land grabbers now strike Nairobi Dam

By Vincent Achuka | Published Sun, April 23rd 2017 at 00:00, Updated April 22nd 2017 at 22:28 GMT +3
Herders graze their cows at a section of the Nairobi dam bordering Nairobi’s Langata estate and Kibera slums’ upgraded housing plan. Private developers have allegedly grabbed and fenced off the land. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Faceless individuals have descended on Nairobi Dam and are subdividing the water body in what could be the last painful nail on the coffin for what was once the city's spare water reservoir and popular leisure location.

The Sunday Standard gathers that the plan by the individuals who have begun fencing swathes of the damto reclaim it since it has pertly solidified over time due to siltation, is to convert it for real estate.

An acre of land in Lang'ata where the dam is situated, costs Sh80 million making the value of the land occupied by the dam which is 88 acres, worth at least Sh7 billion according to current market rates.

In the dark

The National Environment Management (Nema) yesterday said it was in the dark about what was going on in the dam.

"We are not aware if there is any activity going on at the dam but we will investigate and tell you later," Njoki Mukiri, the Nairobi County director said.

"We were there two weeks ago and there was nothing strange going on," she said.

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Residents who live in the nearby Kibera slum, however, said the fencing has been going on for over two months and were agitated that those taking over the land were denying them space to farm hence taking away their livelihoods.

They said the illegal reclamation of the dam was causing them sleepless nights because of an increase in mosquitoes since the outflow of water from the dam had been reduced.

"I am treating more people for malaria than diarrhea which is a bit strange given that most of the water that people drink here is contaminated," Mary Kivuva, who runs a clinic says.

The fencing of the dam is being done in two sections.

The first one is next to Undugu grounds near Highrise Estate.

The second one is next to Jonathan Ngeno Estate on the Langata bank of the dam and it is being done at night, according to residents.

Of particular concern is the risk of flooding in Kibera and the estates on the lower side such as South C if the grabbers reclaim the whole dam and affect the pressure of water flowing from Kibera if it rains heavily.

The dam was commissioned in 1953 as a water reservoir for emergency water supply with a capacity of 98,422 cubic metres covering 356,179 square metres and was a popular for fishing and up to the 1990's.

Mutoini River which originates from Ngong Forest flows through the slum into the dam where its waters are held temporarily.

The water then leaves the slum through Ngong River into South C, Industrial Area and Kayole before joining Athi River.

Worse, the pressure of water leaving the dam has already been tampered with the construction of a block of flats next to Highrise estate which is believed to be part of the reason why there is flooding downstream in South C when it rains heavily.

Seefar Apartments which was granted NEMA construction approval number 0008382 and the defunct Nairobi City Council approval number is E7-840 in 2012, directed the dam's waters to a different spillway after a dyke they had constructed caved in twice due to pressure.

Plans to restore the dam have have not been successful in the past.

The Nairobi Dam Initiative in 2004 sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ended in futility.

[Vincent Achuka]

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