City estates face demolition in height audit


Kileleshwa Estate: While its residential buildings should not go beyond four floors, some have risen to 15. FILE PHOTO | NMG

More than 70 percent of residential buildings in Nairobi are not compliant with the county government’s zoning policy on the number of floors.

Nairobi County Assembly Planning, Housing and Lands committee chairman Anthony Karanja said only 25 percent of all city buildings adhere to the policy.

“It has come to our notice that the planning department and unscrupulous developers have been approving and developing structures outside the county’s zoning policy and if left unchecked we will have a disorganised county,” said Mr Karanja.

He said the committee will from next week start inspection of buildings to re-evaluate their approvals and recommend, among other things, demolition and regularisation of the buildings.

“We are giving the notice to the executive to put their house in order because as a committee, we will be going round from next week to re-evaluate the approvals of the buildings. It is becoming a menace,” he said.

“It has even become a nightmare to plan for vital services such as garbage collections because the houses contravene the county’s zoning policy,” he stated.

The damning revelation emerged during the Committee’s session on Tuesday where officers from the Urban Planning were questioned over the influx of unapproved buildings in the capital city.

Zoning is a planning control for the built environment that includes dividing land into sections, permitting land use on specific sites to shape the layout of towns and cities and enable various types of development.

In Nairobi, the zoning regulation has divided the capital into 15 areas with a specific height of building and building type allowed.

Mr Karanja explained that unscrupulous developers are working closely with county officials to flout the county’s zoning policy.

The MCA pointed out that officers from the planning department had colluded with unscrupulous developers and put up buildings in total disregard of the zoning policy, which guides on how many floors a structure should have and the maximum number of buildings allowed for in a certain zone.

He said the situation has been fuelled by the existence of cartels in the county comprising of sub-county administrators, planning officers and enforcement officers who are allowing the illegal structures to be put up.

“People are being allowed to construct on road reserves, airport land, public land, and military installations outside the zoning policy. In an area like Kileleshwa where buildings are only allowed to go four storeys, we have since established that some buildings in the area go up to 15 floors,” he said.

The Waithaka MCA appealed to Governor Mike Sonko to rein in rogue officers from the urban planning and housing department who were responsible for the haphazard building of structures.

“We are calling on the governor to keep a keen eye on his officers and expose those working with the cartels responsible for the proliferation of unapproved structures and buildings in the city,” he said.

Over the years, Nairobi houses demolition has been on and off for several reasons.