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September 21, 2018

Bulldozers will soon roar in Mombasa too

The fenced area at Mwembe Tayari where the former bus stage used to be / BRIAN OTIENO
The fenced area at Mwembe Tayari where the former bus stage used to be / BRIAN OTIENO

Mombasa county has said buildings built irregularly will be demolished.

The government and human rights lobby Haki Africa have said there are more than 2,000 buildings on road reserves, fish landing sites, public toilets and beach access roads.

Lands, Planning and Housing executive Edward Nyale on Sunday said the county is finalising a list of buildings which will be brought down. “We are working with the National Land Commission and the Lands ministry to revoke those ownerships,” he said.

The illegal buildings also include those without approvals or built on waterways. “We started this [demolition] during the floods,” the executive said on the phone. The largescale demolition is similar to that witnessed in Nairobi under the Nairobi Regeneration Project.

However, it has not taken off in Mombasa because of problems such as acquisition of equipment.

“We have not done it on a largescale operation like Nairobi. But it is something we are looking into.”

Nyale did not give the date when the major demolition will start in Mombasa. Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid said there has been enough outcry from residents and the county needs to take action.

“Residents have complained about flooding after a little rain. This is mostly contributed by the permanent structures along water paths, leading to homes getting swamped and estates getting submerged.”

Khalid added that there are numerous prominent buildings said to be illegally constructed and mentioned in the Ndung’u Report. “There are buildings which have been built on public toilet land,” he said.

“We had a bus stage at Mwembe Tayari and Mwembe Kuku but now there are several buildings there. We had a public toilet near Makadara, at Baluchi, but a building was put up,” Khalid said.

He also cited buildings in Mama Ngina Drive and the Likoni Towers near Aga Khan University.

The executive director said some hotels are built on areas meant for bridges. “These are buildings that should be probed and brought down,” he said.

Rental house owners have not been spared either. Chief Whip Charles Kitula on August 2 raised questions over the illegal buildings in his Frere Town ward.

The county assembly Lands committee chaired by Ahmed Salama toured the ward. Two buildings were listed for demolition in Katisha. “Construction of houses without proper documentation will not happen under my watch,” Kitula said. Hussein Noor, the owner of a building earmarked for demolition for allegedly having no approval documents said he has invested his life’s savings on the building.

“I have all the documents. Now they come and say the documents are fake. Why did they give me fake documents then?” he said.

Tenant Juma Odhiambo in Katisha said it will be unfair to demolish the house when the landlord has not done anything wrong. “Where will I take my family if they demolish this house? Why did they take all these years for them to realise there is something wrong? This whole thing looks fishy,” said Odhiambo, who has lived in the house for seven years.

Khalid said: “At the Coastal line, the public have no access to the beaches which are supposed to be open for use by all.”

Nyale said the county is trying to recover all public utilities, including road reserves, playgrounds and hospitals in collaboration with the Lands agency.

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