Sunday, 5 June 2016

Landlords use forged court orders to stop demolitions


Injunctions were found outside unsafe buildings county government wanted to knock down.
MONDAY JUNE 6 2016
The remains of a building that collapsed in Huruma Estate, Nairobi, on Friday night. Nairobi County government had earmarked it for demolition. Owners of buildings earmarked for demolition forged court orders barring the Nairobi County Government from knocking down their structures. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The remains of a building that collapsed in Huruma Estate, Nairobi, on Friday night. Nairobi County government had earmarked it for demolition. Owners of buildings earmarked for demolition forged court orders barring the Nairobi County Government from knocking down their structures. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
By LILLIAN MUTAVI
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Owners of buildings earmarked for demolition forged court orders barring the Nairobi County Government from knocking down their structures.
The demolitions started in May and targeted over 200 unsafe buildings. This was after a building in Huruma collapsed, leaving more than 50 people dead and several injured.
County Executive for Lands Christopher Khaemba told the Nation at his office on Friday that the regional government had not relented in demolishing the unsafe buildings.
He said so far eight had been brought down in Huruma and Mathare.
The official said the demolitions had, however, been put on hold over the past two weeks after developers pinned court orders outside all the buildings that were marked for demolition.
“We had made it public which houses we were going to bring down and when. When our officials went to the sites, they found court injunctions pinned outside all the buildings,” said Mr Khaemba.
He said the county government decided to involve a legal team, which went to the High Court, where the orders were supposedly issued, but records of the matter could not be traced.
NO ORDER ISSUED
It took the county government three days before it could verify that the orders were actually fake. “The individual who drafted the court injunctions must have a good idea of how genuine ones look,” said Mr Khaemba.
A letter dated May 26 from the deputy registrar, Environment and Land Division, Milimani Law Courts, to the county lawyer says the court does not have a record of the Paul Hudson Kamau vs the National Construction Authority, secretary of the Nairobi City County and the Attorney-General case, Ref No. HC ELC No. 1382 of 2016.
“Please, be advised that today, May 25, 2016, we do not have in our record ELC1382 of 2016, and, therefore, no order could have been issued regarding the said file. The order you refer to did not emanate from our court,” says the letter from the Milimani courts.
Mr Khaemba on Wednesday said the county government had resumed the demolitions and targeted two other buildings in Huruma. He said occupants of the buildings had, however, not vacated, which compelled the regional government to engage the police to evict them.
He added that the buildings in Huruma were in bad shape and could have collapsed had the rains continued.
The county has also been re-auditing the buildings, with owners of those that require repairs given a grace period to carry out the necessary work.
Staff involved in the operation have faced some challenges, with hired youth groups attempting to bar them from going ahead with the demolitions.
“At a building in Hamza, for example, some goons with weapons chased away National Youth Service personnel who were carrying out the demolitions,” said Mr Khaemba.

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