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NMS to resume approvals of building plans

By Josphat Thiong'o | June 22nd 2021

A trader points at the building that acted as a store for their goods as it collapsed in Kamukunji.[Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) resumes approval of development plans on Thursday after three weeks’ suspension.

The e-construction development plans application system has been restored after it was hacked leading to illegal approval of 18 buildings.

NMS Director General Mohamed Badi assured the public that the loophole exploited by crooks has been sealed.

“We suspended the system to seal the loophole the hackers used to make illegal approvals. We then called in technology experts from the Ministry of ICT and it took us almost two weeks to get the system rectified. From Thursday we are beginning the processing again,” said Maj Gen Badi.

Property developers had faulted the suspension of the service, saying they lost millions of shillings in revenue.

Led by the Kenya Institute of Planners chairperson Joakim Nyarangi, the developers noted that NMS receives between 200 and 250 high-end investment applications worth millions of shillings through the system every two weeks.

Hackers accessed the system’s Quick Response (QR) code and effected numerous illegal approvals.

The QR system is part of the e-construction development plans application system used for final approval of building plans and construction permits.

The system provides unique electronic identification of all approved architectural and structural plans, eliminating need for property developers to submit hard copies of development plans for physical stamping as a mark of final approval.

“The hackers managed to manipulate the system because they had codes for accessing the system,” Badi said yesterday.

He said some City Hall staff conspired with hackers to do illegal approvals.

Badi said the e-construction system had not been upgraded in the last four years, after it was handed over by the World Bank. “Unfortunately, after the one-year grace period of handing over to the county, the lease of maintenance by the World Bank’s contractor ceased and the county was to take over and upgrade it. That system has not been upgraded for the last four years,” said Badi.

Some of the hackers have since been arrested.

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