By: Muchemi Wachira
Resident of Nairobi’s Huruma Estate have raised fears over plans to grab public land in the open spaces next to their housing units.
The estate is owned by the Nairobi City County government.
This is after strangers started erecting iron sheet structures, which they have converted into places of worship.
The residents have been writing to City Hall to complain about noise that come from these structures especially on Sundays when worshippers gather.
“We don’t know the motive but our fear is that the open spaces may have illegally been allocated to private developers as it is happening in other estates owned by the City County government,” a resident of the estate told Nation on Sunday.
Like other estates owned by the City County government, Huruma has big open spaces.
These spaces are intended for different purposes.
Some are earmarked for facilities like schools, hospitals as well as playgrounds and other social amenities.
A similar thing happened in Jamhuri Estate when surveyors from the City County government were a few years ago sited assessing the open spaces and what followed was construction of high rise buildings by private developers.
However, after protests by the residents, the National Construction Authority has declared these buildings illegal since the ownership of the property where they have been erected is in dispute.
On Monday the Kenya Alliance of Residents Association (Kara) had organised a public forum to discuss how to protect public land and open spaces in Nairobi.
According to Kara chairman Richard Nyaga, they have been receiving numerous complaints of grabbing of land particularly the open spaces.
That is one of the reasons why they had organised the forum where they invited various government agencies dealing with land matters.
They included Land, Housing and Urban Development ministry and the National Land Commission.
The ministry was represented by the Principal Secretary Mariamu El Maawy while Dr Rose Musyoka represented NLC.
The Nairobi City County government did not send a representative.
CITY HALL SILENT
When asked if they were aware of what is happening in Huruma Estate, City Hall did not respond.
The county government has also remained silent on the grabbing of the public land in Jamhuri Estate where some officials at City Hall are said to be among the beneficiaries.
Participants in the Monday meeting blamed Land ministry and NLC for failing to act on the grabbing of public land in the City but Ms El Maawy and Dr Musyoka absolved their organisations from blame and confirmed that they were aware of the grabbing.
The Land PS further informed the forum that they were forming a joint task force with representation from other stakeholders in the property sector including the NLC and members of the public.
The mandate of the task force is to identify all the grabbed land in Nairobi and other areas.
Dr Musyoka said NLC has identified illegally allocated public plots in the open spaces in Nairobi, which they are trying to recover.
She told the forum that in one of the estates in Eastlands, some children have developed rickets because they cannot access sunlight following the grabbing of open spaces in the area where tall buildings have been constructed.
Several commercial buildings have also been built on the open spaces leaving the children with no room to bask and enjoy sunshine.
Rickets is a disease that is defined in medical terms as softening and weakening of bones mainly in children over prolonged vitamin D deficiency.
Besides diet, vitamin D is also produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin of a person.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION