, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has admitted that corruption is among issues blamed for the Huruma house collapse tragedy that has left 16 people dead so far.
Kidero said other causes of such calamities are tribal politics and court orders which bar officials from demolishing condemned buildings.
“There are number of problems; one is that title deeds have been given even of river banks, so when you are going to bring down a building, they rush to court to stop you,” he said.
The seven storey building in Huruma was built on a riparian land on the banks of Nairobi River and came down during the heavy rains on Friday night.
“Corruption is a big issue. Last year in January when a house collapsed here in Huruma, when we arrested the person, people at very high levels intervened so that he is not taken to court,” Kidero said, without naming anyone.
On lack of title deeds, Kidero said, “my responsibility is to protect life and property and that is why I have been saying those who do not have title deeds and are building without approvals, they need to be given. I will keep on pushing irrespective of who they are, so that they get title deeds.”
The governor further attributed the menace to failure by professional bodies like the architect and engineers association to punish errant members.
“Some of the houses are being supervised by professional architects,” he pointed out. “This is negligence that has continued, we will deal with it until it is over.”
Kidero said he will be taking disciplinary action against any official in his county government who may have been involved in either supervision or approval of the ilfated building.
“There are some officials who will by Wednesday next week not have a place to sit on…they were the directors of planning and supervision during the County Council days and are the same people whom I gave the job. On Wednesday they will not have any offices,” he said, in a veiled threat to set heads rolling at City Hall.
The seven storey building that went down on Friday night is among buildings that had been earmarked for demolition, but continued to be occupied under unclear circumstances.
Several other buildings in the area are said to be unfit for habitation.
“We will test all houses and only the fit will remain…and politicians who come interfering, they will be in for it,” he warned while announcing that the County Government will give Sh2 million to the victims.
The governor painted a gloom picture of desperation over the ‘hurdles’ he faces in trying to streamline the housing sector.
But nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, who spoke at Uhuru Park during the Labour Day celebrations, disagrees with the governor on the tribal angle, insisting it is corruption to blame and nothing else.
“People died in Huruma due to corruption…where did they get the approval?” he asked. “A six storey building, built in five months in a river. Is that tribal politics or corruption?”
Dagoreti North Member of Parliament Simba Arati on his part called for demolition of all buildings constructed along river banks.
“The Governor must act now. Demolish unfit buildings first and let proceed to court where we can apply for a bond,” he said. “There are no life bonds for Kenyans.”
He urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to also crack the whip on all those who may have failed to enforce the law.
“All this has happened because of corruption,” he said.