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Appeals court spares Grand Manor Hotel further demolition

Grand Manor Hotel at Gigiri
The demolition of the Grand Manor Hotel in Gigiri, opposite the UN offices. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG 

The owner of a building erected near UN headquarters in Gigiri has obtained orders blocking further demolition of the premises.

Mr Praful Kumar, the owner of Grand Manor Hotel, obtained the orders from the Court of Appeal last week. 

Through lawyer Paul Muite, Mr Kumar argued that although part of the building was substantially damaged, he could still salvage the premises since a large part of the building is still intact.

Justices Mohamed Warsame, Daniel Musinga and Prof Otieno Odek granted him the orders staying the demolition, pending the hearing and determination of the case.​

Grand Manor hotel through Senior Counsel Muite and Kithinji Marete, told the court that 80 percent of the building is still intact.

Mr Muite said the upper part of the building was not affected and the building may be salvaged subject to expert assessment and advice.

According to Mr Muite, the intended appeal raises serious constitutional and legal issues and has high chance of success.

Through his company Whitehorse Investments limited, Mr Kumar rushed to court seeking to stop the demolition in December but Justice Bernard Eboso dismissed the application ruling that the businessman had failed to exhaust available appeal mechanisms.

The judge said the businessman had failed to appeal against Nairobi County government’s decision made by the Physical Planning and Liaison Committee before moving to the Environment and Land Court.

County notice

The owner moved to court accusing the county government of serving them with enforcement notices, requiring them to stop further construction of the hotel. They were served with the notice on December 14, 2017.

According to the businessman, he had obtained all the required approvals from the county for the construction of the hotel on UN Avenue off Limuru Road, but was shocked when he received the letter asking his company to stop further construction and remove the hotel's foundation.

He told the court that the project was 75 per cent complete and he had spent over Sh200 million on the building.

The court heard that the letter from the county alleged that the construction was going on without inspection approval.

But Mr Kumar told the court that he had paid the inspection fee of Sh2.9 million and it was the county’s duty to inspect the building. ​

The proprietor maintained that the letter was malicious, unreasonable and the county was shifting the burden of inspection to him.

Mr Kumar told Justice Eboso that the construction had not been condemned and it did not pose any risk, including health to nearby residents.

In the ruling, Justice Eboso said the owner was required to ventilate his grievances through the mechanism provided and there was nothing to show that he attempted to satisfy the said provisions.

'Security notice'

Documents filed in court show that US Embassy, High Commission of Botswana, UN office and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco raised concerns over the building.

The embassies oppose the construction of the hotel through a collective note No. 1639 dated July 13, 2017, over security concerns.

The letter urged Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry to intervene.

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