South C estate residents up in arms as developer moots 15-storey tower

A comprehensive report was prepared and tabled before the Urban Planning Technical Committee, which rejected the plans.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Residents of KMA estate in South C, Nairobi, are up in arms over a plan by a private developer to put up a 15-storey building.

They claim the project violates the estate’s by-laws, which dictate a maximum of one storey for buildings.

The estate has 65 houses. More than 30 men invaded it, brought down a security fence and began demolishing a property.

It all started in 2019, when the private developer visited Anwar Sidi, the secretary of the estate, to talk about a plan to develop a 15-storey residential building.

“Two years later, he came from nowhere with these men, entered the estate and started putting down the fence without informing any of us,” Mr Sidi said.

The developer, he claimed, does not have the necessary approvals and some documentation is inconsistent.

“Some of the documentation the developer provided looks like a copy-and-paste. Approvals from Nema and NMS have signatures but with no names of those who signed.”

Residents also claim that the developer did not consult with them and those who signed on the environmental impact assessment questionnaire are not members of their estate.

“When we requested Nema for a list of those involved in the public participation exercise, none of those who signed are members of this estate. We want to know how they let this injustice happen,” a visibly angry Mr Sidi said.

Ms Ranjana Bharaj, a resident of South C, expressed her frustrations, saying there is not enough space as it is and an apartment building will strain the infrastructure.

“By adding more than 40 houses to this estate, the strain on the facilities and infrastructure will be even more immense. We are already having broken sewer lines and sewage spewing in our houses every time it rains,” Ms Bharaj lamented.

A proposed development site of the 15-storey building along Muhoho Avenue in South C, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The property is adjacent to a nursery school and residents fear the school could collapse if construction starts.

Surrounding areas

“The proposed plan of the building shows that it will entail two basement floors, which will put the surrounding areas at risk of collapse during construction,” Mr Sidi said.

He noted that the developer had started demolishing the property that occupies the plot, as well as a security fence, posing a security threat to the estate.

Nema issued a licence for the project on November 26, 2021, but after an inspection on January 17, the agency ordered that all activity at the site stop.

But the developer continued working on the site, and when estate residents wrote to Nema, it said the project had been approved.

The building plans were initially approved based on the information presented to Nema by the project’s architect that indicated the plot is located in an area of South C where development of apartments was permitted, said Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) spokesman Tony Mbarine.

“The applicant also attached a copy of a title deed with Special Conditions indicating that development of flats was permissible as registered on the title having originated from the Lands office,” he said.  

“Additionally, the applicant indicated that the two plots had been merged and achieved a plot size which can accommodate apartments development.”

NMS later received complaints from residents of the area concerning the approvals and visited the site.

“Following the complaints, our officers visited the site and it was established that indeed the residents’ complaints were valid. It was also established the information (provided) by both the project physical planner and the architect was misleading and inaccurate,” Mr Mbarine said.

A comprehensive report was prepared and tabled before the Urban Planning Technical Committee, which rejected the plans. The panel said the plot was located in an area of maisonettes, and that apartments were not permitted.

The committee also said the project architect and planner had presented misleading information on the exact location of the plot, that residents had objected to the proposed development, and that it violated the Physical Planning and Land Use Act No. 13 (2019).

The developer refused to comment on the matter when the Nation reached out to him.

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