Kenyatta family project floods homes in Ruiru

A local resident whose home was flooded. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The meteorological department has issued flood alerts while urging Kenyans to be on the lookout for landslides and overflowing river banks.

Developers of an upcoming city, owned by the Kenyatta family in Ruiru, are on the spot after their dam caused rain water to flood homes in surrounding areas in the small hours of Thursday.

Northlands City, a mega urban development comprising residential, industrial and commercial units, is being set up using water from Uhuru Dam, also called Sukari Dam.

There has been a simmering conflict between residents and owners of the project, conceived in 2016 and planned by Triad Architects, since 2015.

This was after the height of the wall at the dam’s spillway was raised to accommodate more water.

Ruiru residents stand outside their flooded homes on December 5, 2019. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

According to residents, the raised wall put their lives at risk and exposed their property to damage by floods.

“In our various meetings with you, we expressed our reservations on the ''containment wall'' blocking storm water from our estate into the natural course, which is within your property,” the residents said in a letter dated September 17, 2015.

The protest letter was addressed to Northlands City under the care of Brookside Dairy, a milk processor owned by the Jomo family, and was received by Ms Angela Kyungu, the project lead, on September 25, 2015.

“It (the wall) restricts the natural flow of the water, thereby causing flooding in our estate during heavy rain periods,” the letter, signed by Varsityville Residents Association Secretary Francis Kiarie, adds.

Their fears were confirmed Thursday morning when storm water flooded their houses as they slept.

Homes surrounded by water on December 5, 2019. There has been a simmering conflict between residents and owners of the Northlands project belonging to the Kenyatta family. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

One of the affected residents, Ms Caroline Gitari, told the Nation that their houses were flooded shortly after 1 am.

“There is an obstruction that has forced water to flow into Varsityville estate and other surrounding areas,” she said.

She said she could count close to 10 houses that were affected by the raging waters.

“We have not slept. As we speak, we are stranded with children. Our houses are a big mess,” she added.

Varsityville estate in Ruiru. PHOTO | GOOGLE MAPS

Ms Catherine Koech, another resident, said they are living in fear of contracting waterborne diseases.
"The water might come into contact with our underground sewage systems which, when consumed by our children, could result in diseases like cholera," said Ms Koech.

According to the locals, the wall, which they say was erected without consultations, first caused floods in 2015 and has remained a nightmare since.

“In the last rainy season (2015), flooding was experienced on the plots neighbouring your property,” the residents say in their letter.

“The few homes around here were greatly distressed by this abnormal flooding and we informed you of this.”

Mr Kiarie asked Northlands City to “lower the spill way level and remove or improve what you are calling the containment wall so that we can revert to the conditions that pertained earlier or apply any other conditions that do not pose any threat of flooding to our homes”.

However, it is emerging that the developers of Northlands City and the dam owners did not take any action despite the residents' threat to hold them accountable for any damages caused by storm water.

Mr James Kimani, a resident, said they have held several meetings with the developers of Northlands City and agreed that culverts be built by the city developers along earmarked points to stop flood water from collecting at their homes but that is yet to happen.

Cars caught up in floods along Kangundo Road Bypass intersection on Thursday morning. PHOTO | COURTESY

"All we want now is for the developers to create a spillway for the flood water and lower the level of the dam’s spillway to avert a situation where the water levels in the dam increase and burst the banks," said Mr Kimani.

Northlands City communications office was yet to issue a statement on the floods and the conflict by the time of going to press.

The dam is situated along the Eastern Bypass next to Brookside collection and cooling centre in Kiambu County. It is located about a kilometre from Clay Works factory on Thika Road.

Varsityville residents say the size of the water reservoir has been increasing gradually since 2012.

Around May, the locals told the Nation, the firm began dredging the dam to enable it hold more water and raised its spillway.

An embankment built on the boundary dividing the estate and the dam has now blocked the natural flow of water into the dam, leading to flooding in the estate on a stretch of about two kilometres.

Once complete, the Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City will sit on 11,800 acres of land and will accommodate an estimated 250,000 people working and living within its boundaries.