Why parliament blocked NEMA, WRA from demolishing Seefar

Seefar Apartments Owners Association Chairman Peter Otieno when he appeared before the environment committee of parliament to present his case on the looming demolition of the apartment citing safety concerns and encroachment. November 22, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

Parliament blocked the planned demolition of Seefar apartments in Nyayo Highrise, due to ‘public interest’.

The National Assembly Environment and Natural Resources Committee yesterday ordered an immediate vacation of the demolition notices issued by Water Resources Authority and National Environment Management Authority.

“As the committee that oversights Nema and WRA, we are ordering that they vacate the notices until such a time that the multi-agency technical team carries out comprehensive audit on the safety of the building,” Chairman Kareke Mbiuki said.

The order came as a relief to more than 200 home owners who spent millions of shillings, some borrowed from banks, to acquire the units from a real estate firm – Edermann Properties.

The 12-storey building has 260 houses.

WRA and Nema issued the demolition notice to Edermann in October last year, sending shivers down the spine of home buyers. In the notice, they argued that apartments were constructed on Nairobi Dam’s Riparian Reserves.

They have however been extending the notices. On February 13, they extended the notice by 90 days to allow for a technical team to carry out the audit on the safety of the dam and the buildings

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, who also appeared before the panel to explain the demolitions, found himself on the receiving end over the agencies decision to issue the demolition notice without a proper technical report on the safety of the dam and the buildings.

“The report has not been finalized because the technical committee resolved to engage a dam expert to carry out the study,” Tobiko said.

But the MPs criticized him and the ministry saying that it was irresponsible for the Ministry and the agencies to issue the notice for the demolition of the multi-million building without prior report.

“How can agencies like Nema and WRA issue demolition of notices without proper report on the safety or otherwise of the buildings?” Kasipul MP Charles Ong’ondo posed.

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