20 June 2012

Kenya: Works On 10 Buildings in Mlolongo Stopped

The Municipal Council of Mavoko has stopped construction works, occupancy and business operations in at least 10 major buildings in Mlolongo. The town clerk last Wednesday issued a 24-hour notice to the plot owners to suspend further activities on the building sites and ordered occupants to vacate.

The move came in the wake of a building that collapsed last week in the area which claimed five lives and injured several others. The affected buildings are adjacent to the site of the collapsed building. Most are owned by prominent politicians, businesspersons, senior government officers and some officers in the local authority.

The council said the buildings were illegally erected on a land initially owned by a foreigner and the developers did not seek the council's approval. Mayor Patrick Makau said the council has no records of the controversial buildings. The owners, led by former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile, have vowed to protest the local authority's impending demolition of the buildings.

Occupants have begun vacating the houses after the council issued the notice signed by town clerk Joshua Sitiene and copied to area DC Kodhek Makori and OCPD Charles Kirinya. A showdown is now looming after the municipal council alleged that the land was grabbed but the owners insisted they bought it. They said they were granted approvals for construction by the same authority and there was no way it could have failed to notice construction works.

The Municipal Council of Mavoko said it will undertake an architectural audit of the plots in the area and take action. Kalembe said that the collapsed building was an accident like any other and building owners in the area should not be victimised for it. He said the owner of the collapsed building, who is yet to resurface, should ideally be compensated by the government - which was busy inviting investors from abroad while killing local ones.

"There is no way these buildings would have been erected without the knowledge or approval of the council. The council is worse than Nairobi. You can hardly put up a toilet without being confronted by the council," said a resident in the area, adding that the scam either involved the Mavoko Municipal Council or influential personalities.

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