Court stops Shanzu Retreat's construction project in Nairobi's upmarket

Police and NEMA have been roped into the row and named as respondents for seeming complacency.

In Summary

• Suit papers attest approvals earlier issued to the developers were erroneous and were promptly revoked on grounds Kyuna lies in a zone that prohibits the proposed projects.

• The change of user, the respective lead authorities in the suit papers have concurred, had been “inadvertently” issued and was revoked.

Two companies have suffered a legal setback after licenses of their projects were revoked for being erroneously approved.

The proposed eight townhouses and the Dhiren’s Spa and Salon in the Nairobi's upmarket were found to have been issued inadvertently. 

The row pits Kyuna Neighbours Association (KNA) and the private property developers Shanzu Retreat Ltd also known as Sopa Town Houses and Maar Petroleum.

Shanzu Retreat Ltd directors Thomas Stephen Bowman, Mahendra Arjan Bhudia, Tracy Bowman and Noorali Mohan Manji, according to court documents, have opted to stop the construction of the houses and Dhiren’s Spa and Salon. 

However, the directors of Maar Petroleum, Yusuf Abdi Hussein and Omar Ibrahim Abdi have continued with construction unabated, an injunction from the National Environment Tribunal(NET) issued on March 4 2022 notwithstanding.

“They have continued with construction even after being served with the order. The construction is also taking place at the night which is against the law,” Wilfred Lusi for the neighbours association states in a court document.

Lusi is seeking a citing against the businessmen for contempt.

When the dispute came up at the tribunal it was found that the approvals for the project, by the various lead agencies including the Nairobi City County, the NEMA, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and the Energy Petroleum and Regulatory Authority (EPRA)  on ensuring compliance, were irregular.

Kyuna Neighbours Association (KNA) in an affidavit signed by the chairman, Kimani Mathu, states the "projects are in total violation of the law and are unjustly compromising the resident’s legitimate expectation and safety”.

Suit papers attest approvals earlier issued to the developers were erroneous and were promptly revoked on grounds that Kyuna lies in a zone that prohibits the proposed projects.

The change of user, the respective lead authorities in the suit papers have concurred, had been “inadvertently” issued and was revoked.

“It has been established that the plot lies in Zone 5 of the Nairobi City Development ordinances and Zones which stipulates the development of one residential dwelling house,” a suit document dated January 17 2022 from the Director-General of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services(NMS) stated.

NMS in their finding states the change of user was issued in error.

“Change of User was issued inadvertently and has been revoked. The developer was notified and an enforcement notice was issued to the developer(s) instructing him/her to stop further development and resubmit both changes of user and building plans,” the document reads.

Kyuna residents say huge investments have been made in maintaining the neighbourhood including a distinctive heavy tree cover which has been already interfered with in the process. 

The directors of Maar Petroleum are accused of  contempt for, “defiantly proceeding  with the construction works which are mostly carried out in the night.”

Police and NEMA have been roped into the row and named as respondents for apparent complacency.

“Despite being ordered by the court to ensure compliance, by restraining the ongoing construction of the petrol station they have failed to exercise their lawful authority to enforce the orders,” Lusi said.

The lawyer said  NMS having found illegality in the issuing of change of user thereby revoking the approvals, NEMA, is legally bound to follow suit since the latter’s licence was pegged on the former but has failed to do so to date.

“The impugned NEMA license itself enjoins the developer to ensure that construction activities are undertaken during the day between 08:oohrs and 18:00hrs; and on Saturdays' between 0800 hrs t01300 hrs," he further said.

Maar Petroleum, according to the suit papers is required by law to put up a construction sign board but “to date, no such sign board has been erected in utter defiance,  and seemingly in an unwitting attempt to hide the details of the project including the disputed licensing, the contractors, the developer and the nature, scope and scale of the development,” the court filings read.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star
WATCH: The latest videos from the Star