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October 22, 2020

How brave Karen residents are tackling an obstinate illegal developer head-on and a rare expose of the cartels that’s taken City Hall hostage

The residents of a serene gated community in upmarket Karen are caught up in an ugly altercation with a private developer. Here’s a rich cocktail of impunity – an utter disregard of law – and proven manipulation of urban laws that regulate construction projects in controlled sections in the city.

The backyard approval deals in this case, brings to fore the cartels that run amok in the corridors at City Hall.

Background of the Case:

Address: Plot LR No: 7583/185, Mwitu Road, Karen. (Lang’ata Sub-County).

Law: Physical & Land use Planning Act no.13 of 2019 and any other related Nairobi County Bylaws.

Offence: Illegal erection of a 3-storied residential building structure (Maisonettes/Flats).

The above property is part of The Larger Mwitu Controlled Gated Community and comprises of Five (5) Sub Plots each measuring l Acre (Plots LR NO. 7583/184, 185,186,187 & 189). The Sub Division for the property was approved by Nairobi City County with the understanding that all plots were to be used for construction of Single Family Dwelling Units in conformity with the neighborhood Zoning Policy.

In disregard, the Occupier of the property in question has started a construction that flouts the regulations.

Briefly, this is a simplified-version of some of the by-laws that govern and control development in exclusive sections of the city:

  1. A plot shall have the main family house, and only one other outhouse, also called the Servant’s Quarters.
  2. A residence shall have only one main entrance. An occupier shall not create an additional entrance to the property.
  3. All construction projects have to be approved by NCC, NCA, NEMA, and follow pass inspection by the National Building Inspectorate.

In the Larger Mwitu Controlled Gated Community case, the occupier at Plot LR No. 7583/185 has contravened all the above statutes, and more. The individual is an established architect, so ignorance of development laws in the city is not plausible. He’s an arrogant entity, with corrupt links to relevant offices in the industry.

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In protest, Mwitu Residents Association started the process to halt the illegal project. They have written to the Nairobi County Council (NCC), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and National Construction Authority (NCA).

However, due to apparent links to a powerful cartel in the Nairobi County Council corridors, the developer continues. Despite astute, point blank official notices to halt the construction, the project continues.

This is the chronological sequence of this drama:

On 7th January, 2020: NCA suspends the project vide letter NCA/10a/Vol 1. (Access to property denied).

On 9th January, 2020: NCC Enforcement Notice to stop the project is issued vide form no. 2871.

On 10th January, 2020: Residents write to NEMA vide NEMA/MWITU/Plot LR No. 7583/185/2019/03.

*At this point, the developer gets a hitherto ignored approval letter from NCC, duly back-dated.

On 13th January, 2020: Residents write to NCC to advise that issued notices have been ignored.

On 14th January, 2020: NCA issues second suspension letter to the developer.

On 15th January, 2020: Residents report to Karen Police Station, OB 36/15/01/2020.

On 24th January, 2020: Residents write again to NCC in protest, vide NCC/Mwitu/Plot LR.     7583/185/2019/AS617/ (DZ300)/03.

The indefatigable Mwitu Residents Association further writes to the Nairobi Buildings Inspectorate (NBI), the Oversight Authority.

Presently, the project continues, round the clock, in absolute impunity and disregard to the rule of law. On diverse dates, the developer irregularly attains signed and stamped back-dated documents. The cartel is real, and far-reaching.

Besides the NCC, the cartel also has its tentacles in the sister departments.

The National Construction Authority (NCA), for instance.

On Friday 21st Feb 2020, the developer sets up fake signage purportedly from the NCA at the site. Even to an amateur, it’s poorly-done, and the association out rightly denies issuing it. Someone at the NCA clearly did some backyard deals.

Part II follows, that deals with the follow up at NCC Urban Planning Offices, and the finale.

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