• Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Taarifa News

Latest News Around the Globe

County Officials involved in Change of Use for public Land

Dec 14, 2023
Stephen Gathuita Mwangi , Nairobi CEC for Build Environment and Urban Planning.
254 300

City Hall has been on the spot over the eviction of county staff from county houses and the properties taken over by private developers with the help of ‘powerful County officials.’

Taarifa News delved into investigating how the said ‘powerful official’ have been colluding with private developers and the county losing its property including staff quarters where county employees were evicted, county houses demolished and the land parcel taken over by an Asian businessman in Westlands, Nairobi.

During the first tenure of devolution, under the first city county governor Evans Kidero Nairobi City County lost property LR No1870/11/230.

In 2015, while serving as Chief Officer for decentralized units John Ntoiti who in August returned to Nairobi with no specific designed role played a major role in helping the Asian tycoon with the Watch of the then Chief Surveyor (Stephen Gathuita Mwangi)to evict the county staff from the property.

Investigations by TaarifaNews reveal that when made the chief surveyor of Nairobi, SG was colluding with people in the National Lands Commission to ensure anyone who needs a title deed goes through him.

For the county to dispose or lose its property, it has to be maybe through auctioneers and before it happens, the county government needs to seek permission through the county assembly.

Elias Kipchumba, not his real name who is one of the victims of the eviction and demolition told TaarifaNews there was no cabinet sitting that was held to see the change of use of the said land.

He explained that they were told to vacate the houses immediately without question adding that the County assembly was also never notified of the same.

“There is no cabinet approval minutes to show that the property was well disposed to showing the illegality in the process.” He explained.

“No county can sell its property without consulting the assembly. For example, Kakamega County cannot sell Bukhungu stadium without the approval of their assembly. When the county sold it property for example in Makadara, when houses were disposed to foot the outstanding bills from the pensioners and NSSF, the then city council approved because the proper order was followed. For example, if Sakaja wants to dispose property for example staff houses he has to notify the assembly for approval first.”  He added.

Read Also:John Ntoiti, Ghost Worker Handling County Revenue

Kipchumba explained that the County government before the Nairobi pay system came into place during the NMS tenure and the digital system in the Ministry of Lands (Ardhi Sasa) the ministry officials were collaborating with the then Nairobi County Chief Surveyor SG Mwangi who would approve who is to be given a title deed in Nairobi and who not.

“Stephen Mwangi is the man of the moment because all this was happening under his watch. Before the commission confirms you are to be given a title deed, they go through him to inquire if it is correct for you to be given. Just as Mutua (director in charge of rates Nairobi) said before, earlier on, the county government of Nairobi was being given copies of title deeds of property owners in Nairobi for them to charge rates and here is where all the evil deeds happen.” Kipchumba stated.

Nairobi City County House Famously known as ‘Nyumba ya Kanjo.’

“The title comes directly to SG Mwangi specifically and if he has interest on the said property, he lies that the property belongs to the county and does not approve the title deed.”

Further investigations by TaarifaNews reveal that with his corrupt dealing in the land sector, the powerful CEC in Sakaja’s Cabinet ‘oils’ the pockets of the county legislators every time before appearing before any committee for questioning.

“He ‘oils’ the pockets of the MCAs that is why when he appears before them everyone says “I have no question to ask” like it was during his vetting to be a CEC.” An MCA told Taarifa News.

CEC Mwangi has been at the City County of Nairobi all his lifetime but he started at the Ministry of Land before he came to the county in 1985 where he has served in various ranks including County Chief Surveyor, Chief Officer and now County Executive Member for built Environment and Urban Planning.

The happenings are contrary to the remarks by SG Mwangi who alluded that all the demolitions in Nairobi are done by security officers and that he would not be a leeway for Land grabbing while serving Nairobians yet he was a leeway for the demolition of the above county property and the change of user.

“Any demolitions done in Nairobi is answerable to the security team because they are the ones in Charge. I have been working in Nairobi since 1985 and with my technocrat expertise, I cannot be a leeway for land grabbing.” SG Mwangi stated.

During a hearing by the Nairobi City County Assembly committee on planning documents showing the alteration of the land records were presented before the committee.

They showed that the change in records for the multimillion-shilling property happened between February 19 and October 27, 2014.

The ownership details were changed from the County government of Nairobi, to two individuals whose names were not mentioned.

The Nairobi County ICT department said they could not establish the names of individuals who made the changes.

“As the ICT department, we cannot trace the ownership details for the property because the details are not in our possession. The information about the land was transferred from the county government to the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) and is now in possession of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).”Okiri told the committee.

The ICT department at City Hall is the custodian of data concerning property ownership in Nairobi. Other departments rely on it for information on the payment of land rates.

“The officers we have been investigating over the demolition of the land are not coming out clearly [sic]. They are evading questions and blaming the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). But that is not true. In 2014, KRA was not in charge in Nairobi County.” Orlando, the committee chair said.

“They were the ones handling the system but they have refused to give us the information on who exactly made these changes. We have given them two weeks to come up with documentation so that we can close this investigation and write our report.” He added.

Further, in our investigations, we found out that Nairobi’s automated approval system has not been working and that developers currently seek approval physically at the urban planning department.

Read Also:Unleash your TikTok Creativity with Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The county is under scrutiny after it emerged that some staff have been overlooking construction regulations despite failure to meet requirements by the developers.

Florence Nyole, Architecture Association of Kenya (AAK) president told the planning committee chaired by Kitsuru MCA that it now takes up to twelve months to get approval which was previously sixty days.

“We do not know where this is coming from since this is an online system that should be operating seamlessly for developers to seek approvals. We submitted our request for approval to the county government but we have never received any feedback and this affects the operations of developers.” Nyole told the planning committee.

The committee revealed that the county employees have been allowing some developers to continue with development without applying for a change of user while others were doing it.

The urban planning technical committee was also fingered for approving buildings contrary to the zoning policies.

Further, it emerged that residents of Nairobi are never allowed to give their views for the change of user to be approved.

A resident present at the committee said they see the notices for change when they are already approved.

“When we see notices of the change of users in our neighborhoods, it is already approved. When we follow up, we are given 14 days to protest the change of user by writing to the county executive in charge but when we go to the county executive, the change of user has already been approved.” The resident stated.

A junior officer, Fredrick Ochanda who is the acting assistant director of development astonished MCAs after revealing during the meeting that he had approved over six hundred constructions without the knowledge of the planning CEC and the chief officers.

He said he received powers to do it from governor Sakaja in the month of August after being appointed into office.

“The approvals are supposed to be done by the chief officer but I received the powers by an appointment letter by the governor. They were present when I was informed of the duties to perform.” He said.

Analo who is the chief officer in charge and the acting county secretary however denied delegating his duties to the junior officer.

“I have no powers and rights to the system hence I cannot give what I do not have. I cannot account for building approvals that have been released by the county.” Analo said.

However, Ochando changed his tune and said after receiving the requests, he later gives to the urban planning technical committee that approves.

Graft and impunity in the urban planning department of Nairobi and greed among developers have previously led to the collapse of buildings.

Most past collapses of build cases have no clear record of action taken and for the few that end in court, the developers get away with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *