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Some resident associations powerful than the city council

By | March 8th 2012

For many Kenyans, building a home is the epitome of success and a dream come true. However, for new homeowners in New Runda, building a home is turning out to be a nightmare, with many of them accusing the Runda Residents Association and its subsidiary Runda Water.

The contractors and other employees working on the construction sites at the newly acquired lands in the lavish neighbourhood say the resident association is putting numerous hurdles in their way, making their building process painful and costly.

"Our main problem here comes from Runda Water and not from our bosses," said Andrew Mungai, a contractor at one of the construction sites in New Runda.

"For one to bring building materials to the site via the main gate barriers, one must have documentation from the association and also pay a bribe for the lorries to be allowed in," said Mungai.

Exorbitant rates

Andrew accused the resident association officials of harassing them by constantly asking for his building plans yet the Nairobi City Council has approved all of them as required. He claimed the association is amassing more powers and control over them than the council.

"They also force new construction sites to use their water, which they charge double the normal City Council rates and don’t even want us to sink boreholes," said Mungai.

Protus Barasa, a contractor at a separate construction site a few metres away from Mungai’s site, also complained about the resident association, saying the guards they have stationed at the gates demand bribes from each vehicle that brings in building materials to their sites.

"Even if you meet all their requirements, they will look for excuses then secretly ask you for a Sh200 bribe before they let the vehicle past the main gate barriers," said Barasa.

"They don’t want us to look for alternative sources of water for construction and they force us to buy water from them at exorbitant rates," he added.

Barasa claimed the officials harass them by severally cutting the supply and demanding bribes before they reconnect.

Runda Water General Manager Daniel Methu, however, denied the corruption allegations levelled against his officials, terming them as malice by new homeowners who don’t want to follow the resident rules or contribute to the maintenance of the area.

Methu said all residents — members of the association and non-members — are required to contribute towards the road maintenance, a fee that is supposed to be paid at the association’s office.

He delinked his office from the guards alleged to be extorting money from new homeowners.

Maintenance costs

"We have outsourced our security services to a private company called Eagle Watch Limited that employs the guards manning the barriers. They are not direct employees of Runda Water. If there’s any money being collected, it is illegal and if we get any reports on the same, we will report the guard to the service provider and they will never step in Runda again," said Methu.

"Those who are constructing at new sites in Runda are required to pay a monthly fee of about Sh1,300 per month for maintenance and any other amount is illegal. We don’t encourage it. Such claims have not been verified," he said.

Methu added: "Some people who feel the plot is theirs and must have unlimited access to their plots and don’t want to participate in the maintenance cost of the roads are the ones coming up with the complaints."

"We give water and we cannot disconnect it because someone has not paid and the prices we charge are regulated by the Water Resources Regulatory Board. They approve tariffs and we implement. I agree our tariffs are higher, but it is justified by the economies of scale if Runda Water is compared to Nairobi City Council."

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