Benard Gitau @benagitau
Trepidation mixed with despair, all wrapped in boiling anger of the 288 Seefar Apartments residents greeted the arrival of the National Assembly committee that had gone to inspect the condemned property.
And the verdict from the House team led by the Environment Committee chair Kareke Mbiuki, delivered a further blow after expressing concern over the safety of tenants. Though, they said the apartment would not be demolished until the experts have concurred on its safety, they warned that the Sh950 million apartment faces imminent danger over the interfered dam embankment.
“We have seen clearly the wall of the dam has been interfered with and it is a clear indication there is imminent danger,” said Mbiuki. He added that the country is yet to heal from the Solai Dam tragedy which claimed more than 40 people hence prevention is better than cure. The dam is leaking.
But Erdermann Property, developers of the 12-storey apartment comprising 288 units completed in March 2014, remains defiant and confident over its safety, a stand backed by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.
The governor has asked the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to withdraw its demolition notice, but adds that if the building sits on riparian land, then it must be brought down like others that have met a similar fate.The firm managing director Zeyun Yang has dismissed Nema’s order as “hollow, evil, illegal and aimed at blackmailing them”.
“We feel there is a scheme for extortion through these orders because seven years down the line, there has been no issues over Nairobi Dam riparian reserve,” he said. He said the committee’s sentiment on the dam safety was contrary to their expert’s report, which indicates “the dam is the safest in the country”.
His statement contradicted that of Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who said Kenyans investments must not override environment conservation and demolition should not be always the solution.
Sonko pointed out that investors who have grabbed schools, hospitals, markets, his administration policy is that they construct alternatives and donate to the county instead of demolishing complete investments.
“But those who have grabbed rivers, sewer lines, water pipelines and roads there will be no negotiations, they must go down,” he added. With all 288 units occupied, the developer indicates since 2014, the cost of the building might have doubled to more than Sh1.9 billion and hence owners who have purchased the units would lose their lifetime investment.
The building has 264-two bed-room flats and 24-three bedroom apartments located within High Rise Estate on Mbagathi way on the peripheries of Nairobi Dam covering an area of 31,000 square metres. On October 13, Environmental Management and Water Resources authorities gave the developer 14 days’ demolition notice.
“The following inspection by our officers, you have encroached on Nairobi Dam embankment. You have built a permanent structure contrary to the provision of EMCA Cap 387. Within 14 days (from the date of this notice) demolish the permanent structure failure to which demolitions will be done without further reference to you,” a letter written by Nema and addressed to Edermann Property said.