BY JIMNAH MBARU
In my current capacity as a Nairobi businessman, Chairman of Dyer and Blair Investment Bank, a former Chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) and a former Chairman of the Nairobi City Council Interim Oversight Board that previously oversaw the running of the financial management of the Council, I would like to express my concern over the following events at City Hall:
That last Friday (10/08/2012), the Nairobi City Council officials, in a most callous and unprocedural manner, hurriedly convened a full Special Council Meeting to dispose off a number of Nairobi City Council properties in order to offset multi-billion shilling debts owed to two staff retirement benefit schemes – LAPTRUST and LAPFUND. The Council is required to pay over Sh5 billion to these institutions – because it failed to remit pension dues which have accumulated over the years, plus accrued interest.
Yet majority low income residents of Nairobi are currently tenants to these houses which are earmarked for sale. Their children were born and brought up in these houses and if such a negative move made by the Council officials is ratified, they will be denied their inalienable right to shelter as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Further to the gross violation of their human rights, their hearts will be emotionally broken and they will have nowhere to run to seek refuge and secure legal redress.
The Council and the civic leaders need to be told that they have to consult widely before undertaking such an irrational and heartless decision that involves the lives of thousands of ordinary city residents who have been tenants for many decades. For years the residents have lived in these houses and have known them as their only home. How can the City Council, therefore, purport to sell public houses where children and old mothers depend on as a shelter and leave them with nowhere to go? They do not have enough money to buy even if they are told to purchase the same houses. It is like killing them alive and the Council’s purported action flies in the face of the national government policy of affordable and quality shelter for all citizens
The council needs to consult with all the stakeholders, including getting opinions of the current tenants. At all costs, the Council should stop planning to sell theses houses. They would rather privatize other amenities such as parking lots and other idle open grounds in order to raise funds to repay off the outstanding amounts instead of disposing off the residential houses, throwing out thousands of innocent Kenyans and city residents who have been their tenants from time immemorial.
According to reports regarding the proposed sale, Council officials have approved to swap the following property over the accrued debts of the Nairobi City Council Staff Pension Scheme:
I) Jeevanjee/Bachelors Quarter – LR No. 209/5458 situated along Quarry Road off Racecourse Road. Development on the estate has 80 residential units on 8.88 acres.
II) Old Ngara Estate – LR No. 209/2760 along Mshindi Road with 78 residential units on 3.28 acres.
III) New Ngara Estate – LR No. 209/5438 with 136 residential units on 4.12 acres along Ngara Road.
IV) Sunken Car Park – LR No. 209/11637 in the CBD measuring 1.705 acres along Taifa Road and Harambee Avenue.
V) Kariokor Estate (awaiting survey data to facilitate inspection).
VI) Jamhuri Estate – LR No. 209/6989 whose details were to be provided later.
VII) Buru Buru Estate – also details to be provided later.
In the past, the Council ceded a number of housing estates to the National Housing Corporation (NHC) for 11 years after it was unable to repay a debt of Sh1 billion and was finally forced to dispose off Madaraka Estate in the manner in which it is now purporting to prepare for the sale of the Council houses enumerated above. I wish to join city residents in totally rejecting the intended move by the City Council as I urge the Minister for Local Government and other relevant authorities to intervene in this matter.
There are other alternative ways of raising money to finance City Council matters.
(Jimnah Mbaru is a Nairobi businessman, Chairman of Dyer and Blair Investment Bank and aspirant for Governor of Nairobi County)