Minister leads demolition of Sh100m building on road reserve

Business

By ALLY JAMAH

Residents of Spring Valley in Nairobi watched in horror as bulldozers moved in and turned a posh Sh100 million house into a heap of rubble, claiming it was built on a road reserve.

The eight-bedroom house belonging to businessman Mike Maina Kamau was pulled down in a morning operation led by Roads Minister Franklin Bett and senior ministry officials.

"We are working on the Northern Bypass and this property is built inside a road reserve. Our repeated warnings to the owner to vacate have been ignored. That is why we decided to demolish it," said the minister.

Mr Bett warned other buildings on the road reserve would also be pulled down to pave way for the construction of the 21km bypass.

Roads Ministry bulldozers demolish house said to be on road reserve in Spring Valley, Wednesday.

But the owners of the property, which also has a swimming pool, gym and sauna, dismissed the minister’s claims, adding the land was legally acquired.

"This building is legally recognised by the Ministry of Lands and the City Council of Nairobi and we have all the documents to prove that. The demolition is illegal and we will seek for damages in court," said Maina’s brother, Kennedy Wainaina.

Home for his family

Maina’s lawyer, John Mburu, said his client was distressed at the loss of his property.

"My client had invested his hard-earned money to build a home for his family, but an illegal move by the Ministry of Roads has deprived him of his right," he said.

Workers were putting final touches on the high-end building and the owner was set to occupy it next month.

Wainaina claimed they were not issued with a written notice to vacate and were not aware their property was on a road reserve.

Written inquiries

"We only saw reports in the newspaper last July that our house was to be demolished. But our written inquiries to the ministry about the actual status of the plot went unanswered," he added.

The house before it was demolished. Its owner has vowed to go to court seeking compensation. [PHOTO: moses omusula/STANDARD]

Bett said he visited the area five months ago and warned the owner to stop construction, but the lawyer said his visit did not amount to a notice since it was not written.

Efforts by Mburu to serve Bett with a court injunction blocking the demolition were fruitless as the minister is said to have refused to acknowledge the document.

"We cannot allow people to use the law to perpetuate illegality and impunity. The people of Nairobi need this road to move smoothly within the city," Bett said.

Mburu indicated he would sue the minister for contempt of court and destruction of his client’s home.

"We will definitely get compensation for the loss of this property. It does not matter if that takes many years. We know that the law is on our side," he said.

The minister claimed the land in question was acquired by the Government in 1973 and blamed corrupt Ministry of Land officials for illegally allocating it to a private individual.

"I urge the Lands minister to investigate the person who facilitated the illegal transfer of this land and take appropriate action," he said.

The Northern bypass goes through Marurui and Thome, crossing Kamiti Road at Githurai.

It then passes Kahawa West and Kamae and proceeds to Ruiru, after which it joins the Eastern bypass.

The Northern and Eastern bypasses would cost Sh8.5 billion.