MPs demand Raila clears air on demolitions

January 20, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Six MPs have demanded that Prime Minister Raila Odinga issues a statement to clear air over uncertainty surrounding the intended demolition of buildings on Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way.

The MPs led by Chepalungu legislator Isaac Ruto said pulling down commercial properties would discourage investment in the country.

He proposed a freeze on construction in the centre of Nairobi and an eventual relocation of the capital city. He argues that Nairobi is congested and it\’s no longer tenable to continue congesting within the City Centre.

"How much money will the tax payers have to churn out to do this compensation?  One building along Mombasa Road could cost Sh3 billion," The MP said.

The concerns by the MPs came after the government issued contradictory statements on the planned compulsory land acquisition on Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way, meant to pave way for road expansions.

At a joint press conference at Ardhi House, Lands Minister James Orengo and his Roads counterpart Franklin Bett differed with Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua who had earlier in the day said that the move had been shelved.

Mr Bett explained that the concessionaire, who was contracted to expand the road, had proposed that the buildings be demolished to pave way for the construction of a larger highway.

Dr Mutua had earlier said that the government realised that the acquisition would leave a dent in the Exchequer as well as burden the Kenyan tax payers.

But Mr Orengo added that the plans to acquire the land still stood although the demolition orders had not been issued.

He also accused business owners in the targeted areas of being devious claiming that they deliberately put up their buildings on the road reserve.

MPs Joshua Kutuny and Abdul Bahari Ali said they would raise the matter when Parliament resumes next month in a bid to block the move.

Mr Kutuny said: "It should not be forgotten that the government has gone on a demolition spree before and all in the name of building by passes which have not materialised instead they have been turned in dens for thugs."

"What informs this rush to demolish yet the efforts are never successful," he wondered.

Mr Bahari said that Mr Orengo\’s sentiments were insensitive to the plight of investors.

"We cannot be talking about the law when there are job losses, involved. This is so important we can\’t be so narrow in our analysis of issues," he said.

Safaricom Limited and Standard Group are among several companies whose multi-million shilling buildings have been earmarked for demolition under a compulsory acquisition programme by the government.

In a Gazette Notice dated December 31, the Ministry of Lands announced it would acquire various parcels of land of varying sizes on both sides of Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way.

The government said it intends to acquire the land in preparation for the Nairobi Toll Road project between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport through to Museum Hill and Gigiri.

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