Relief as NMS clears 4,400 development applications

The backlog had piled up since August 2019

In Summary

• The success is due to the introduction of e-construction development control system at the Lands and Physical Planning sector.

• Trouble in the sector started in August last year after Governor Sonko suspended the Urban Planning chief officer and 16 other officials, two of them executives.


Image: FILE

City developers can now breathe easy after the Nairobi Metropolitan Services cleared 4,400 development project applications that had piled up since August 2019.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had on March 18 directed the NMS to streamline projects development and clear approvals that had accumulated following the takeover of City Hall by corruption cartels.

The Major-General Mohammed Badi-led team effectively introduced e-construction development control system for development applications approval processing at the Lands and Physical Planning sector.


“In May, we gained administrator and super access rights of the e-construction system, which has enabled us to incorporate competent processing of the development applications for approval in a timely and predictable way,” Badi, who is the director-general said.

Trouble in the sector started in August last year after Governor Mike Sonko suspended Urban Planning chief officer Justus Kathenge.

On September 25, the governor further suspended 16 officials, including two executives, after a classroom at Precious Talent Academy collapsed, killing eight pupils.

Fifteen of those suspended were members of the technical committee.

On January 8, all of them were cleared of blame after the completion of investigations into the tragedy.

By February, the value of approved housing projects dropped by Sh69 billion in a span of one year.

The loss of value was blamed on the hitches at City Hall concerning permit issuance. The Architectural Association of Kenya said the value dropped to Sh141 .27 billion in 2019 compared to Sh210 billion reported by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2018.

"The delay in the processing of construction permits by the Nairobi government negatively affects all persons in the construction value chain by prolonging project implementation timelines," AAK said.

The architects further faulted City Hall for technical planning committee and e-permit downtime in the second half of 2019.

On March 29, City Hall launched an online QR Code System for development plans.

The system provides unique identification of all approved architectural and structural plans, eliminating the need for property developers to submit hard copies of development plans for stamping.

The system also reduces the approval time for construction permits.

A month earlier, the county had announced the start of a weekly plan to approve construction permits to clear the eight-month backlog.

In May 2020, the NMS announced the suspension of the e-construction development application system but reversed the decision after opposition from various organisations linked to development and city planning, among them the AAK.

Badi announced that all applications processed through the system between March 18 and May 14 are valid subject to verification.

He had earlier declared them null and void.

He said new Pre-Technical and Urban Planning Development committees were to be reconstituted as per his May 13 notice which had disbanded the Nairobi City County Pre-Technical Committee and the Nairobi City County Urban Planning Technical Committee.

New committees were to be constituted after seven days.


- mwaniki fm