Nairobi loses Sh91 million monthly to delayed approvals

The Nairobi County government is losing Sh91 million monthly revenue due to inefficiencies in its system for buildings approvals, property experts have said.

The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) and Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) singled out Nairobi as one of the most notorious counties in delaying construction permits warning that it was hurting both the county’s and the national economy.

AAK President Mugure Njendu also decried the slow uptake of the e-permits that were meant to enhance efficiency and accountability. Only four counties since 2011 have automated the construction permitting procedures including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Kiambu.

The E-permitting system in Nairobi County has been rocked with disruptions and was down in July, August and September for over 45 days.

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“It is worth noting that the county has experienced a decrease in revenue collection in the first half of the year, as compared to 2018 and it is imperative that the system is regularized to avoid further decline,” said Ms Njendu.

Ms Njendu said that in some instances it took even two years to acquire a permit.

She said that similar cases had been observed in Kisumu, Kiambu and Mombasa but on a lower scale.

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Kiambu County was given as the best case scenario where it takes 20 to 30 days for developers to obtain various permits even as it takes up to three months for developers in Nairobi and Mombasa to get the green light for their structures.

“According to our survey, a developer takes average of 41.5 days to obtain an approval, which is one of the highest in the world," she said.

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“In Nairobi County, such systems have effectively collapsed leading to further delays in approvals. This has forced some developers to incur more expenses in order to ‘facilitate’ the processing,” said AAK President.

Ms Mugure said best practices recommend a week to a fortnight for such approvals to be obtained. 

KPDA Director for Public Policy and Advocacy Gikonyo Gitonga called on government to urgently reform the manner in which construction permits are issued.

“Permitting is serious bottleneck for developers because it has to do with time whose misuse is also the loss of money,” said Gitonga.

Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK) chairman Peter Kariuki said the country could not develop if developers continued to face barriers that would eventually affect State’s affordable housing programme.

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Their remarks concur with a recent Knight Frank survey which found that value of approvals in Nairobi alone decreased 19.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 to Sh48.54 billion from Sh60.11 billion recorded in a similar period last year.

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Architectural Association of KenyaKenya Property Developers AssociationKPDAAAK