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Monday, August 21, 2017

50,000 city structures targeted

Aerial view of overpopulated Umoja estate in Eastlands, Nairobi./DUNCAN NDOTONO
Aerial view of overpopulated Umoja estate in Eastlands, Nairobi./DUNCAN NDOTONO

In early 2015, the Nairobi government passed the Regularisation of Development Bill 2015. The Act provided for the regularisation of all unauthorised developments by November 10, 2016.

It gave developers who had built homes without approvals a grace period to seek regularisation permits, failing which enforcement action would ensue. Upon Regularisation, the developers will have requisite documents, including the occupation licence, which they can use to further develop their investments.

Regularisation has been rolled out across the city, targetting critical areas that require urgent attention. More than 50,000 buildings have not been approved, yet they are occupied. A number of buildings, mainly in Eastlands and Pipeline, were constructed without approvals. The owners had share certificates instead of title deeds.

The majority of these owners bought property from land-buying companies, which issued share certificates as proof of ownership. A prospective developer should have a title deed before his plan can be approved and a development permit issued. The county government will thus take this exercise very seriously to forestall adverse effects associated with disorderly urban development.

The legal framework is already in place. The county government successfully piloted the regularisation process in selected estates. Unauthorised structures will be subjected to basic and forensic (scientific) audit on a case by case basis.

In case a structure is not approved, the county will evaluate whether it meets minimum habitable standards, including structural integrity. If a building owner bought land whose subdivision was not approved, he will be required to present the planning scheme to check if it meets basic planning standards. They include roads, storm water drainage, utility wayleaves, open spaces and street lighting.

We have set up a fully functional Regularisation Centre at Lady Northey, State House Avenue. The initiative will close on June 30.

Officers from the planning and lands department are on hand to help fast-track the processing and issuance of title deeds to genuine owners at Ardhi House.

The process has provided a platform to engage developers and stakeholders in a proactive manner. Developers have been allowed to engage private consortiums to lead the auditing of structures while the county plays a regulatory role. This has enhanced the trust and confidence of developers in our officers.

Buildings that pass the test are regularised, while the owners of those that fall below the minimum acceptable criteria will be asked to address the structural defects identified. Those beyond rehabilitation will be subjected to enforcement action, including condemnation and demolition.

So far, tangible results have been realised in places such as Lucky Summer estate in Pipeline, Embakasi Ranching, Nasra I and II, Kamuthi Farmers’ Co-operative Society, Lumumba Drive estate in Roysambu, Kiambu, Dandora, Njiru, Githunguri and Tassia I and II.

In addition to the 25 per cent already regularised structures, about 5,000 building plans, 10 per cent of targetted structures, have been submitted for evaluation and will be granted regularisation approval.

Recently we demolished buildings in Kahawa West and Huruma that were found unsafe for occupation.

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