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National Environment Tribunal gives nod to Sh1b Njonjo project

BUSINESS
By Lee Mwiti | May 25th 2016 | 2 min read
By Lee Mwiti | May 25th 2016
BUSINESS

The National Environment Tribunal (NET) has dismissed an appeal by Runda residents that sought to stop a commercial project in the area.

The tribunal unanimously dismissed the appeal and affirmed the National Environment Management Authority’s (Nema) decision to issue an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence to Grove Ltd.

Grove Ltd is a subsidiary of Grenadier Ltd, a private investment company with interests in hospitality management, real estate and lottery operations.

The company’s main shareholders are its chairman Baloobhai Patel and former Attorney General Charles Njonjo. The company also owns the Sankara Hotel Group, whose board Mr Njonjo chairs.

The tribunal’s decision has now paved way for the Sh1 billion project that comprises a hotel, a retail centre and office blocks. The project had been delayed for more than a year.

The new hotel will be adjacent to Mae Ridge Runda, a Sh2 billion housing project being built by Pan Africa Insurance Holdings, which is 19.9 per cent owned by Mr Patel.

Njonjo has maintained a low profile since retiring from public service. He recently sold off his 1.32 per cent stake in CMC Motors for Sh10.1 million.

His business partner at Grove Ltd, Patel, on the other hand, has a portfolio at the Nairobi Securities Exchange which stands at over Sh4 billion, with significant holdings in counters like Britam, Pan Africa Insurance and Bamburi Cement.

Runda Association (RA) moved to the tribunal in March last year, challenging a Nema licence given to Grove Ltd to develop the seven acre plot. The association cited several reasons, chief among them being that part of the land was public and there was no public participation in its development.

RA also claimed the land was in an ecologically sensitive area - a swamp - and floods during rainy seasons; and that the project area is a source of water for residents of Githongoro.

Three properties

The residents moved to the tribunal through Isaac Gitoho, Peter Mwangi and Sanjeev Sharma who are listed as chairman, vice chairman and committee member respectively for the association.

However, in a ruling dated May 9, 2016, tribunal chairperson Jane Dwasi and members Francis Situma and Maureen Mathenge dismissed the Runda residents’ appeal, affirming Nema’s decision to issue an EIA licence to Grove Ltd.

The tribunal also directed Nema to ensure EAI licence conditions on the construction are fully complied with before construction.

Grove Ltd acquired three properties in Runda in 2011 totalling almost seven acres. The latest of the three properties, a five-acre plot, was acquired exclusively for commercial use, having been planned for such use during the construction of Runda Estate.

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