House owners whose building plans have not been approved can now heave a sigh of relief. The government appears to have changed tack over an earlier directive to demolish such structures due to safety concerns.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who had earlier ordered demolition of all houses built without approval seems to have changed his mind.
“I don’t have a problem with building owners who had done their construction within standards,” Mr Kenyatta said on Thursday.
“We also know that due to lack of title deeds, they may not have been able to get plan approvals. I therefore direct the relevant ministry to fast-track processing of title deeds for these individuals.” He said the buildings would be examined and if found to be proper, the owners would be given permits.
Same script Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero was also reading from the same script saying it would be unfair to demolish all buildings given that some of them were not approved because they lacked title deeds.
They were speaking at Mutindwa when the President launched expansion works on Outer Ring Road.
“We’ve agreed to carry out construction audit of all the buildings that were done without approved plans. If we find them fit, we will not demolish, if it is recommended for strengthening, we will ensure it is done. These houses belong to our people and they have invested heavily,” Mr Kidero said.
On Tuesday, Nairobi MCAs shot down a motion seeking introduction of a Bill that would have given City Hall power to demolish buildings without permits.
The motion, tabled in a special sitting was to cut the publication period for the Nairobi City County Regularisation of Developments Bill 2015 from 14 to 12 days, allowing members to debate and pass it in a day.
The assembly was recalled earlier in the month, at the request of Kidero (above), to pass the law in the wake of the collapse of two buildings in Huruma and Makongeni, in Nairobi, which left 12 dead.
Leaders in the populous Eastlands had pleaded with the President to reverse the demolition directive. They noted that a corrupt cartel was already minting millions by marking structures for demolition and demanding money from the owners in order to clear the marks.
With change of tune, many building owners in the city, who could have faced huge losses, can now hope to get title deeds at last.
A report released in November 2014 noted that at least three out of four buildings in Nairobi cannot stand even a mild earthquake.
The study by Questworks, a design and engineering firm, blamed the weaknesses on contractors who steal cement and use less steel in construction.