26 June 2014

Kenya: Magelo Blocks Skyscraper On Westlands Plot

Nairobi county speaker Alex ole Magelo wants the MCAs to probe the ownership of a controversial plot on Peponi Road in Westlands, Nairobi. The Star on Tuesday ran a story indicating the plot, considered a wetland, is under development.

A few years ago, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai stopped the land being grabbed by a private developer. Magelo yesterday told MCAs as representatives of the people, they should not sit back and let take riparian reserves.

The Nairobi county government and the National Environment Management Authority have approved the construction by Njowaku Contractors. The client is Afrimachinery PCEA.

"We cannot sit here as the department of planning continues to ashame the people of Nairobi. I want to ask the leader of Majority Elias Otieno to visit the area and bring us a report," Magelo said. He said the officers who approved the construction should explain why they did so.

"As leaders, we should protect the city from landgrabbers. We can postpone all other business to stop them. We are not going to sleep as they grab land," Magelo said.

Environmentalists have opposed construction works on the plot. They said it is "an insult to the legacy left behind by Maathai." Friends of Karura chairman Karanja Njoroge said the construction will invalidate the strides Kenya has made in conservation.

"This has taken a long time and we are surprised that they have acquired the permit. We had identified wetlands in Nairobi and the then Environment minister ordered for their gazettment," he said.

He said a public hearing led by Nema officers was conducted on the same plot during which most of those in attendance opposed the development of the plot.

"We held a public hearing on the same plot and Wangari Maathai was very sick about giving the plot owners a go ahead to develop it," Karanja said. He said more than 250 people who had attended the meeting were against developing the plot. County Environment executive John Gakuo could not be reached.

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