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How due diligence can help safeguard development goals

An excavator demolishes a Shell petrol station
An excavator demolishes a Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa, Nairobi for encroaching wetland on August 8, 2018. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG  

During the construction of the northern by-pass in Nairobi in 2010 a building worth an estimated Sh100 million was torn down to pave way for the project. Similar incidents have been witnessed recently when scores of mega properties on road reserves and riparian land have been brought down, leaving developers with massive losses.

In light of the above occurrences, it is paramount that thorough due diligence is done before putting up any property, especially for real estate developers. Riparian and road reserves are not the only factors considered when doing due diligence before construction. There are several other laws and compliance sections that need taking into account, which run from initiation right to the close-out phase of the project.

Before putting up a building, comb through all the applicable regulations that would dictate how much of land you could use and the guidelines outlined in various codes and acts.

These span from obtaining change of use where applicable, carrying out geotechnical, hydrogeological and typographical surveys that will inform on the structural design of your development and even architectural designs.

For structures, we have the Kenyan Building Code that provides comprehensive guidelines on how construction is to take place and the minimum requirements in a building, general rules on fire resistance to houses, protection of floors against moisture penetration, among others.

In any region where one intends to build, there are zoning regulations in the Physical Planning Act that determine how much ground coverage one can have, the maximum floor height, and various setbacks required.

Additionally, the Act can be of great help in providing information on land subdivision, development control and environmental control.

The Water Act under the Water Resources Authority is also very clear on providing regulations and guidelines on management and use of water resources. The Act also outlines the requirements of a hydrogeological report in order to understand ground water constituents and features.

Others include the Environment Management and Co-ordination Act through the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), which ensures implementation of all policies related to the environment. Nema enforces rules on dust pollution, noise and machinery pollution and even regulation of working hours on a construction site.

By carrying out such exercises like the Stakeholder Environmental Impact Assessment, it is able to provide guidelines on the maximum environmental monitoring plans that should be upheld throughout the construction period.

Nema requires that you apply to get a permit to operate on site within certain time limits in order to reduce interference with the environment and all who derive comfort from it. Failure to do this could lead to an injunction which will consequentially affect timelines allocated to the project.

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) provides useful directions on areas marked as road reserves and guidelines on traffic analysis, just to mention a few.

This is essentially because they are responsible for controlling reserves for rural and urban roads and access to roadside establishments.Besides all the above, other documents need to be availed in order to prevent brushing the wrong side of the law.

LINDA NYASEDA, Quality Assurance, Cytonn Real Estate.

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