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Unauthorised buildings in Nairobi risk demolition

By Josephat Thiong'o | February 18th 2021
Part of Nairobi City (PHOTO: Wilberforce Okwiri)

Property owners with unauthorised buildings in Nairobi will soon be required to regularise their developments or risk them being brought down.

Unauthorised buildings are those that were constructed but do not have the necessary approvals under the National Physical Planning Act and other relevant Nairobi City County legislation.

Lands and Urban Planning County executive Charles Kerich on Thursday said that City Hall was working on the Nairobi City County Regularisation Act, 2021 which will compel those with buildings to present their plans for review and determination on whether they are structurally and architecturally sound.

He said a task force had already been gazetted to come up with the Act which will be tabled at the Assembly in a month’s time.

“The review will ensure that those with unapproved buildings regularise the same and the owners will be told the amount they owe the county. If the plans are found to be okay, the county government will give one the approval they ought to have gotten before and thereafter pay for the requisite planning approval plan,” said Kerich.

The approvals and occupation certificates, he said, will only be issued to owners upon inspection of the buildings.
“Instead of first bringing down the buildings, we will have conversations with the owners so we can assist by having them apply for regularization and the buildings checked,” added Kerich.

He however warned that structurally unsound buildings will not be regularized but brought down.

“If the development is found to be structurally unsound, it does not meant it will be brought down immediately. Our engineers will examine it and give recommendations but if it is found to be condemned the structure will be brought down,” added Kerich.

The CEC brought to the fore that the purpose of the construction plans review was not only to ensure that Nairobi nets revenue from the building owners but also ensure safety of Nairobians.

 “Apart from safety, the review is also a good source of revenue for the county as it is certain many people will come to regularize their buildings to avoid them being demolished ,” stated Kerich.

It is however not the first time that City Hall has introduced such a law. There was the Nairobi City County Regularization Act, 2015 which was passed but not implemented.

The review of construction plans is meant to increase revenue generated to the county by issuing new building permits.

According to data relayed by City Hall, building permits have been performing dismally in terms of revenue collections. This has been attributed to nondisclosure and non-adherence to buildings regulations.

In the 2019/20 Financial year building permits raked in Sh456.7 million, Sh1 billion in the 2018/19 financial year, Sh239 million in the 2017/18 financial year, Sh843 million for the 2016/17 fiscal year Sh1.2 billion for the 2015/16 and Sh 760 million during the 2013/14 fiscal year.

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