Politics and policy
Air Force in new bid to demolish Sh2bn property
Posted Sunday, April 29 2012 at 17:34
A Sh2 billion property, which includes an ultra modern 10-storey Grand Royal Hotel adjacent to Moi Air Base (MAB) in Eastleigh, Nairobi, is among the buildings that could be demolished to guarantee the safety of military aircraft.
Acting after an earlier demolition notice, an investor Samow Edin Osman moved to court and obtained temporary orders seeking to block the government from bringing down the multi-billion-shilling investment sitting on three parcels of land bordering the air base. The government, however, is now seeking to go ahead with the demolition.
Court orders issued by the Constitutional Judicial Review bars the state security organs — provincial administration, Internal Security minister and PS, Defence minister and PS, Kenya Air Force and its commandant, and Attorney-General Githu Muigai from demolishing the property pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Mr Osman’s property is among the highrise buildings, which the government has earmarked for demolition on grounds that they have encroached on the airbase and affected the flight path and use of the runway at the military base.
“Since MAB has a runway from which the aircraft land, manoeuvre and take off, its surfaces must be protected from obstacles,” says litigation counsel at the State Law Office, Mr Wachira Nguyo, while defending the government’s intention to demolish the assets.
Mr Nguyo says that the Grand Royal Hotel is among the buildings constructed around the air base and “is clearly visible from the runway and has greatly affected the flight path and use of the facility”.
The developer owns three parcels of land, where the Sh1.5 billion Grand Royal Hotel stands. Mr Osman also owns another five-storey Barakat Hotel worth Sh400 million on General Waruinge Street in Eastleigh.
He says the Grand Royal has 164 executive fully furnished rooms, conference rooms, two gymnasiums, seven ultra modern offices and also houses a KCB branch in its entire ground floor.
Barakat Hotel also enjoys a middle-class clientele with 80 fully furnished rooms, two shops and conference halls.
Mr Osman claims to have 600 employees working in the two properties, who are likely to be rendered jobless if the demolitions are allowed.
Through his advocates, Hassan, Bulle and Company Advocates, Mr Osman argues that the City Council approved the construction and architectural drawings of the two buildings.
Responding to Mr Osman’s arguments, the government says the owners were required to seek the approval of the Kenya Air Force in addition to the one by the City Hall.
Such approvals, says Major Vincent Pera, in his affidavit, must be made in accordance with the International Chicago Convention on aviation safety standards.
The government issued the notice to demolish the buildings within a radius of one kilometre from the runway touchdown area of an aircraft last year in accordance with the Chicago Convention, Kenya Aviation Act and the Kenya Airports Authority.
The convention prohibits buildings within a kilometre from the runway, which are also not supposed to exceed a height of 30 feet from the ground while those within two-kilometre radius should not go beyond 60 feet high.