Residents petition Sakaja over illegal development in Nairobi


Nairobi residents and human rights groups hold protests outside Governor Sakaja's offices against unplanned developments, forceful evictions, and non-compliant building approvals within the city on May 16, 2024. [Samson Wire, Standard]

City residents have petitioned the Nairobi County government to take action against illegal and unplanned development in Nairobi.

The residents from various estates under the Nairobi Professionals and Residents Association held demonstrations in the city and marched to City Hall to present the petition to Governor Johnson Sakaja.

On Thursday some roads in the city centre were blocked as the group made their way to City Hall escorted by anti-riot police.

“We condemn the failure by developers and public officers alike to adhere to physical planning and land use guidelines, which has resulted in uncontrolled development,” their petition reads in part.

This, they said, has resulted in frequent collapse of buildings in the city, fire outbreaks, sewer bursts, blockage of waterways leading to flooding and other challenges.

"We reject the position taken by Governor Sakaja concerning the rezoning of some areas and elimination of height restriction on buildings within Nairobi county," the petition reads in part.

They challenged the governor to adhere to physical and land use laws to prevent uncontrolled developments. 

The residents noted that while they are in support of legitimate county development this must be done in respect to the Physical Land Use-Planning Act 2019 which provides guidelines on sky limits plot ratios and how land use measures are arrived at.

"There is also evidence of high-level corruption in the county development plans approval process and the Nairobi County Assembly Committee on lands and planning," reads the petition.

County Assembly Chairman Alvin Olando received the petition agreed with the residents on some issues.

"We know that there is a challenge in Nairobi county. If you go to Kilimani, most of the buildings did not comply with zoning policy. That tells you the depth of corruption within," Olando said while addressing the demonstrators outside City Hall.

"Under my leadership as the chair, this habit of receiving bribes for approvals will stop and Nairobi residents must be respected," he added.

Olando claimed that two individuals in the executive have been receiving bribes from the developers for illegal approvals under the watch of City Hall.

In the petition, the group asked the county to utilise the present moratorium period to review all constructions exceeding four floors for compliance of the law.

The group wants local physical development planning to prioritise and expedite the participatory development and enforcement of local physical development plans and resultant zoning in some estates.

They appealed for investigations and audit of violations in the county development approval processes through an independent and transparent process comprising stakeholder engagement and oversight authority.

At the same time, the residents demanded for protection of families in the informal settlements.

Recently elected UDA Members of Parliament and Ward Reps raised concerns over unplanned construction in the city.

They singled out high-rises claiming that some individuals at City Hall are bribed with cash or apartments and commercial space in high-rise structures.

This came after Governor Sakaja was challenged over his remarks that storey buildings will now be constructed in Kileleshwa, Lavington, Eastleigh among other areas in the city.

“25 floors were area-specific (around airbase) and not a blanket restriction. We have proposed an area specific zoning framework that goes up to 75 floors in some areas,” the governor said.

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