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Civil Society groups hold protests against illegal developments in Nairobi

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Expressing concerns, the residents said they wanted to bring back order to physical planning and the built environment in Nairobi County per the Constitution of Kenya.

Civil Societies in Nairobi on Thursday held a peaceful protest against unplanned developments and forceful evictions in the county.

The Nairobi Professional and Residents Group who organised the protest said they were also demonstrating against illegal building approvals and forceful evictions.

The demos started at Jevanjee Gardens in the CBD, where they marched towards Parliament Road and City Hall Way where they presented a petition at the Nairobi County Assembly.

"We have been prompted to take action to put a stop to marauding rogue developers and corrupt public officials who have turned planning and development into their illegal cash cow causing loss of lives, homes, livelihoods, physical and mental health, devaluation of property values and untold damage to the environment," reads the petition.

Expressing concerns, the residents said they wanted to bring back order to physical planning and the built environment in Nairobi County per the Constitution of Kenya.

As a result, they denounced the illegality of the Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2023 on Nairobi City County Development Control Policy, recently presented to the Nairobi County Assembly for approval.

They claimed that the proposed policy fails to follow the correct procedure as outlined in the law.

"The Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2023 on Nairobi City County Development Control Policy aims to sanitise blatant abuses of physical planning and development control laws, which have escalated under the watch of the current administration at City Hall," reads the petition.

The policy if approved would raise the building height limits in places like Kilimani, Kileleshwa, and Muthangari from four floors to 15 floors.

The proposal states that Westlands, Central Business District (CBD), Westlands Museum Hill, and the surrounding areas have been classified under zone three with a limit of 30 floors.

In the new policy, areas in the Central Business District including Haile Selassie, University Way, Uhuru Highway, and Tom Mboya Street will be classified as zone one with a floor limit of 75 floors while areas surrounding the newly-launched Railways City will have a limit of 50 floors.

Members of different civil societies addressing the press during peaceful demonstrations along City Hall, in Nairobi's Central Business District on May 16, 2024. Photo: Courtesy

Valley Road, Uhuru Highway, Dennis Pritt Road, Ralph Bunche Road, and State House Road will also be limited to 75 floors.

Others with a similar limit include Ngong Road, Hospital Road, Upperhill Link Road, Mbagathi Way, Argwings Kodhek Road, and Ralph Bunche Road.

Pumwani, Ziwani, and Eastleigh are classified under zone 2 with a limit of 25 floors while Riverside, Parklands, and City Park are classified under zone 3c with a limit of 20 floors.

Going further, the Sakaja-led administration has classified areas in Zone Six, Zone 12, and Zone 13 as single dwelling places meaning there will be no high-rise developments.

The areas include Karen Triangle, Kuwinda, Karen C, Karen Hardy, and Langáta Road Corridor including the Bomas of Kenya roundabout and the Lang'ata and Ngong Road roundabout.

Other areas under this category include Huruma Village, Nyari, Rosslyn, Thindigua, Ridgeways, Mitini, Hibiscus Court, Mitini, Gigiri, Kitisuru, Runda Park, Runda Estate, Githogoro Village, Runda Evergreen and Whispers Estate,

Nairobi River, Mathare River, Juja Road and Outer Ring Road have been classified as zone 7 with a limit of five floors.

It also includes areas such as Kariobangi, Korogocho and Dandora.

Areas in Kahawa West, Zimmerman, Githurai 44, Kahawa Soweto and the nearby areas are classified as zone 17 areas with a limit of 12 floors.

Kasarani, Roysambu, Clay City, Mihango, Komarock and Chokaa are classified as zone 18 with a limit of 16 floors.

In addition, the protestors also condemned the failure of developers and public officers to adhere to physical planning and land use guidelines which have resulted in but not limited to uncontrolled development, collapsing buildings, fire outbreaks, and explosions,

While receiving their petition, Chairperson of Nairobi County Assembly planning committee Alvin Olando Palapala claimed that some developers were bribing their way to have their building plans approved by the county.

He called on Governor Johnson Sakaja-led administration to bring order and look into the concerns raised by the residents.

The Nairobi County Assembly planning committee recently called for the disbandment of the Nairobi building approval committee over 'illegal approvals and allowing strangers to participate in sittings.

The Nairobi County Assembly Sub-Committee on Planning chaired by Nominated MCA Nasra Nanda has been probing building approvals made in the city since the Johnson Sakaja-led administration came to office in 2022.

After having a series of committee meetings, it was disclosed that on March 8, 2024, the governor led a meeting in one of his private offices where 154 building plans were discussed, with 131 of them approved.

The Assembly committee deemed these approvals illegal as they were not sanctioned in the governor's office, a function that should be overseen by the County Executive Committee (CEC) responsible for urban planning.

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