Tatu City managers battle Kiambu governor over building approvals

Tatu City’s head Nick Langford addresses journalists in Ruiru/JOHN KAMAU
Tatu City’s head Nick Langford addresses journalists in Ruiru/JOHN KAMAU

The management of Tatu City in Ruiru has accused the Kiambu County Government of frustrating its development.

They said last Friday that Governor Ferdinand Waititu has instructed the county planning department not to approve any building plans associated with Tatu City.

“We consider this an act of blackmail after we declined to offer any free land to the governor and his cronies,” Tatu City said.

Tatu City managers claimed that Waititu is using spurious Kikuyu elders as a pretext to grab three acres of land.

On Saturday some Kiama Kia Ma elders wanted to perform a cultural ceremony under a Mugumo fig tree on the Tatu City land but were denied access by security officers.

“Tatu City will stand to defend its legitimate ownership of its investment. Governor Waititu’s occupation of a public office does not entitle him to deprive any person or organisation of legitimate property. We urge him to keep off Tatu City,” Friday’s statement declared.

“The governor called me after we thwarted the ceremony that was to be held on our land and told me that that piece of land belongs to ‘us’ (him and the elders). He also told me that we are just colonialists invading their land,” said Chris Baron, Head of Corporate Affairs for Rendeavour, the developers of Tatu City.

“We are bonafide investors and we are trying to deliver a project that will benefit many Kenyans. It should not be undermined by people who have selfish interests,” he said on Saturday.

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Baron said the three acres targeted by Waititu, including the Mugumo tree, will be developed into a park open to all members of the public. He said elders would also be able to hold traditional ceremonies there.

An official at the Kiambu planning department recently showed Tatu City a memo from Waititu directing them not to approve their plans.

Some 360 Kijani Ridge home owners are yet to get approval to develop the parcels they bought from Tatu City.

“We urge Waititu to fast track the approvals so that millions of dollars of investments can be unlocked to create job opportunities,” Baron said.

Tatu City head Nick Langford told journalists on Saturday that most developments in the state-of-art mega city have stalled.

“The county government of Kiambu has refused to consider Tatu City applications for approval of building plans, to the detriment of our project’s development. Waititu should be reasonable and allow the project to succeed,” Langford said.

Waititu on Monday told the Star that Tatu City has declined to surrender land for public utilities such as primary schools, health centre, market or social hall.

“Surrendering land is not a new condition. It’s normal for every subdivision. If you have 100 acres and to want to subdivide, you must surrender open spaces for public amenities,’ the governor said.

“Even if they construct high-end schools in

the city, they need to understand that workers who will be employed in factories or industries in the area will have kids who’ll need to go to schools they can afford,” Waititu said.

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Waititu said that he is a member of the Kiama Kia Ma council of elders which is why he was involved in the ceremony.

“I had to attend the ceremony like anyone else because I am a member. It was not the first ceremony to be held there. Even before Tatu City invested there, Kikuyu elders led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta used to conduct traditional ceremonies there and that’s why the fig tree is known as ‘Mugumo wa Kenyatta’,” he said.

The Kikuyu elders, after being denied access held their kurathima muthiigi ceremony to bless the leaderhip at Oj Palace in Ruiru sub-county.

“We have been performing our ceremony at the Mugumo tree situated in Tatu City land. We are not interested in taking their land neither have we been sent by anyone. We strongly condemn those who fed Tatu City management misleading information that we were out to grab their land,” said senior elder muthamaki Dominic Ng’era.

The Tatu City area has been under coffee plantation since 1906. Tatu City bought the land from Belgian company Socfinaf.

Langford called on the national government to intervene and solve the impasse.

He said at least 45 local and international entities have invested over Sh50 billion in the Tatu City project. Some 7,000 houses are under construction and will be ready for delivery by 2020.

Tatu City projects that the project will give 150,000 Kenyans permanent jobs and 220,000 semi-permanent jobs when it is complete in 20 years.

“This City is no longer a dream but a reality. Investors are trooping in from around the world. We believe we are on course in supporting the government in its Big Four agenda,” Langford said.

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