Kileleshwa residents lose sleep as high-rise buildings shoot up

High-rise buildings at Kilimani, Kileleshwa area.

For about two decades, Eliud Kandie has lived in Nairobi's Kileleshwa after returning back home from abroad.

He chose the neighbourhood because of its serenity and privacy which he was used to overseas, and the fact that the estate is listed among Nairobi's leafy suburbs.

But for about three years now, Kandie has been having sleepless nights after a private developer bought a plot not far from his main house and in months he witnessed a five-floor building rising up above the rest.

"Our privacy is no longer guaranteed because those occupying the building are able to see not only my compound but also those of our neighbours," he noted.

"It is very easy for someone with ill motive to monitor movements in the compounds and carry out their missions; in fact, we as residents have never been involved in county government public participation on developments in the area," he added.

Kandie's tribulation mirrors those that other residents have been going through for some time now. Kileleshwa Residents Association coordinator Carol Sudi explained that most buildings coming up in the neighbourhood do not meet key requirements.

"Residents met about two weeks ago to deliberate on the matter because no proper public participation is held before such constructions are approved," she explained.

"Some of the buildings go up to 10 floors, which is against county law. In fact, we have advised some developers to follow the law and table how the building plans were approved," added Sudi.

In some instances, the coordinator claims developers hold public participation in less than the required 14 days so as to lock out the residents from giving their input.

And now the residents, through Ward Rep Robert Alai, have written to the Ministry of Lands, the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, National Lands Commission and other authorities to probe how approval of such buildings are done. The residents have also accused some rogue officials at City Hall's planning department of collecting hefty bribes so as to approve the constructions.

"Kileleshwa Ward falls under Zone 4 as clearly set out in the Nairobi City Development Ordinances and Zoning Guide of 2016, which limits developments in the area to a maximum of four floors, allowed on sewer only," the MCA explained.

He added, "These clearly set out guidelines are currently being grossly violated with impunity, and the team of five crooked officers are determined to turn the ward into one big concrete jungle".

The residents want EACC to probe some county officers tasked with enforcement who target to collect a certain amount of money per property.

With time, the residents say the rate at which new structures are coming up is way beyond the capacity of the existing capacity for infrastructure and services like water, electricity, sewerage, roads and other public amenities.

"The residents continue to be grossly inconvenienced by inadequate services because of the mushrooming of these irregular developments. This is not a phenomenon we will continue to tolerate," the ward rep explained in the letter.

In 2016, a master-plan was tabled and approved in the Nairobi County Assembly to prevent instances where zoning regulations seem to be created to suit certain circumstances.

Thus, the residents argue, some overhaul is needed to fix the Physical Planning Department to properly control the day-to-day construction activities.