Seefer Multi-Billion Shillings Apartments Demolition Order Not Justified

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Seefer Apartments

There must be some personalities in and outside the multi-government agencies involved in the demolitions of multi-billion shillings buildings believed to have encroached on riparian land busy grinding their own axes.

Otherwise being used by powerful, well connected and financially heavily oiled tycoons to even settle scores. Scores that are sending shivers down the spines of hundreds of innocent home owners who find themselves in the ongoing vicious cross-fire simply because they bought their homes which have become targets of these operatives for demolition.

The most critical point is the fact that the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) which is at the centre of all the demolitions that have since been executed and those in the pipeline must as a matter of law give permission to all developers in the country before any construction begins and issue certificate of compliance on completion of the development projects.

Then comes the most critical question why the same NEMA after issuing all these clearance papers to the developers before they in turn sell the properties they have developed to buyers turns completely around to issue totally contradictory orders to its own previous clearances of the same?

Indeed one reporter in one of the local dailies correctly posed: “Why the government would give approvals for the development of multi-billion real estate then order for its demolition a few years down the line is a question that many are asking. In what is now becoming the trend in demolitions being carried out in Nairobi, developers and tax payers continue to pay for the sins of a few government officials who are free.”

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This state of affairs was triggered by the NEMA itself writing in October this year to a multi-billion shillings property developer, Erdemann Property Ltd who developed some years ago and sold out Seefar Apartments in Highrise estate of Nairobi to private owners that he had encroached to the Nairobi dam embankment.

The owners of the apartments had already been consigned into wild panic by notice from the same NEMA of its intent to execute demolitions of their apartments for the alleged wrongs which its inspectors had ironically inspected on October 12th, 2018 and the same day issued demolition threats unless Erdemann bosses appeared before the NEMA Deputy Director Enforcement on October 15th, 2018. 

The October 12th, 2018 letter to Erdemann Ltd signed by NEMA Inspectors Cothma Thaithi and Eric Ngondi reads in part: “Our inspection on October 12, 2018 at 13 hours established that your Seefar Apartments in Highrise area of Nairobi encroached on Nairobi dam. That you built a permanent structure into the dam’s reserve contrary to provision of EMCA Cap 387 laws.”

It goes on to order the Erdemann bosses accompanied by their legal adviser to appear before the NEMA Deputy Director Enforcement on October 15, 2018 failure to which the apartments would be demolished in the ongoing demolition programme by the government of structures constructed on riparian land.

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However, the facts are that Erdemann as a matter of law sought from NEMA the compulsory Environmental Impact Assessment inspection and clearance before commencing any construction works, maintained continuous inspections during the constructions works, and most importantly sought inspection and clearance of the same not only from NEMA, but also including other concerned government agencies before being given a clean bill of health.

According to documents all these activities or demands by the government agencies and NEMA were met and Erdmann’s Seefar Apartments given a clean bill of health on completion of the project in 2013 before the developer started selling the more than Kshs. 1 billion apartments to individual home buyers.

Then what provoked or triggered NEMA inspectors to rush to the same development on October 12th, 2018 to make what appears may have been an apparently “emergency” inspection that does not explain what kind of encroachment on the dam reserve they were talking about which they had failed to notice before, during and after the development of the project?

It has since emerged that the apartments, whose construction was launched by the late Housing Minister Soita Shitanda comprise 288 middle-income units — 264 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units — on three blocks of 12 floors.

A three bedroom apartment at Seefar goes for Kshs. 9 million while a two-bedroom unit costs Kshs. 6 million. Those renting pay an upwards of Kshs. 35,000 for a two bedroom unit while, those who live in the apartments expressed anger at the government saying they will not go down without putting up a fight.

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Seefar Apartments sits on LR NO 209/12108 which was hived off Highrise Estate by the National Housing Corporation NHC). Erdemann began construction of the apartments some time in 2012 after being given approval number 0008382 by NEMA. The approval was given on June 29, 2011.

Indeed it was until the intervention of the Erdemann Property Ltd bosses that the threat to demolish the apartments was extended by 30 days, when on the ground it was established that the properties were built more than 47 metres away from the highest estimated water mark of the dam and of course the 120 metre required from midstream of Ngong River.

This state of affairs is emerging when at the very same time the Water Resources Management Authority had given a clean bill of health to Erdemann Property Ltd for the repair works it had been commissioned to conduct on the very same dam NEMA is accusing it of alleged encroachment.

These developments brings out serious questions on whether President Uhuru Kenyatta’s noble intentions to recover the nation’s encroached riparian lands as part of his Big 4 agenda are not being grossly abused by highly questionable characters with their own axes to grind?

In this kind of emerging scenario, what are the true intentions of these characters? Who are they and with whom are they playing complicity to execute their nefarious intentions? What will be the consequences of the ongoing demolition operations if they are already compromised? How many innocent property owners are going to be caught up in a deadly cross-fire that will render them homeless paupers?

 

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