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State to reclaim leased wetlands, warns Orengo

BUSINESS
By | March 7th 2009

By David Ohito

Lands Minister James Orengo has said the Government would repossess land parcels on which two Nakumatt Supermarket outlets – Westgate and Ukay – stand on.

Another 15 posh residential houses in Loresho, two parking lots, and a wall may be pulled down to protect a river and a wetland.

The move is likely to be resisted but Orengo said the Cabinet and an inter-ministerial committee had approved the move. He cited Section 30 of the Land Act overriding interests which include right of way, rights of water and natural rights of air, water and light and support," as key ecological reasons for the move.

Said Orengo: "The owners of the lands in question should surrender title deeds to my office immediately. They obstructed a watercourse and developed it without approval."

"The lands they sit on would be repossessed and reverted to State to avert an ecological disaster. The area is environmentally fragile and therefore unsustainable for residential development," Orengo told a press conference, in his office.

"The Government may at one time enter up on any sold land, leased or occupied under Government Lands Act, and may therefore do any work which it may consider necessary for maintaining or improving the flow of water in any river or stream on the land, and may direct any stream or river, without paying compensation except for buildings and crops destroyed," he quoted Section 87 of the Lands Act.

Direct approval

Many other houses between Dagoretti and Westlands risk being demolished as the acquisition of the plots and developments were declared illegal.

The two parcels of land on which the supermarkets stand, are leased to the business chain.

The minister similarly put developers whose property are on the basin of Nairobi River on notice that the next phase of demolitions would affect them and they need to ensure developments comply with legal requirements.

Orengo said the Commissioner of Lands granted the parcels through direct approval for allocation with Government’s nod.

He added that the Ministry of Water is therefore in a legal position to prevent illegal developments over and along the river course or rectify damages already done.

He said developers breached the development condition on the maximum plot coverage of 50 per cent for residential and 75 per cent, for commercial developments.

The minister put bankers who are holding title deeds for the said parcels of land that they risk losses.

Orengo accused the defunct Nairobi City Commission, which was allocated the controversial Westlands prime plot measuring 4.4 hectares for residential property development.

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